Once upon a time in an enormous forest lived a woodcutter and his wife. The woodcutter is very poor and a war rages around them, making it difficult for them to put food on the table. Yet every night, his wife prays for a child.
A Jewish father rides on a train holding twin babies. His wife no longer has enough milk to feed both children. In hopes of saving them both, he wraps his daughter in a shawl and throws her into the forest.
While foraging for food, the wife finds a bundle, a baby girl wrapped in a shawl. Although she knows harboring this baby could lead to her death, she takes the child home.
Set against the horrors of the Holocaust and told with a fairytale-like lyricism, The Most Precious of Cargoes is a fable about family and redemption which reminds us that humanity can be found in the most inhumane of places.
Praise for The Most Precious of Cargoes
“With subtlety and intention, the novella ultimately implores us to consider the purpose of literature after tragedy…It is difficult, in 2020, to write a work of fiction about the Holocaust that is original; even simply in this sense, Grumberg’s work succeeds where many have failed.”–Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
“This swift, intense novelette…is dreamy and ethereal, repeating themes of milk, sustenance, and what it means to love a child. An excellent choice for book clubs.”–Booklist