To keep patrons engaged during times of social distancing, MorseLife Health System presented two iterations of its Virtual Literary Society to eager readers in May and June. The discussions were hosted by Marlene Strauss via Zoom, the first featuring The Tattooist of Auschwitz author Heather Morris, and the second featuring American Dirt author, Jeanine Cummins.
The Tattooist of Auschwitz tells the true story Lale Sokolov and his one true love, Gita, during their time in Auschwitz and their many years together living in Australia. Sokolov becomes the tätowierer, or tattooist, of Auschwitz who forever marks his fellow prisoners. Sokolov says his life was forever changed the day he looked into Gita’s eyes as he tattooed her left arm. He shared with Morris that “Gita tattooed her love into his heart.” This inspirational story is based on years of interviews between Morris and Holocaust survivor and Auschwitz-Birkenau tattooist Ludwig Lale Sokolov. During the conversation, Morris revealed that the book would be turned into a six-part mini series.
Watch the discussion below:
American Dirt tells the story of Lydia, a mother and bookstore owner from Acapulco, Mexico, who attempts to escape to the United States with her 8-year-old son, Luca, after their family is killed by a drug cartel. She is forced to leave behind her life and flee as an undocumented immigrant to a land of hope and freedom.
When asked what inspired Cummins to write this story, she had “47 different answers to that question” and many of her answers drew from her personal experiences of immigration, trauma, grief, and loss. She had written two drafts of “American Dirt” that tried to tell the story of survival and immigration from multiple points of view, but only Luca stood out as the protagonist leader. The final novel was formed by five years of research into the conditions of children and families detained in U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) facilities and Cummins’s own experiences. Cummins revealed that her book will be adapted into a movie.
Watch the discussion below:
During both presentations, Keith Myers, president and CEO of MorseLife, thanked guests who attended the lectures and discussed MorseLife’s COVID-19 Emergency Relief Fund.
“The health of our seniors and their families continues to be our top priority,” said Myers. “The pandemic has caused us all to make significant adjustments to everything we do. Here at MorseLife, the seniors we serve are our area’s most vulnerable, and for many, we are their lifeline. That is why we have created our ‘MorseLife COVID-19 Emergency Relief Fund,’ to help us maintain enough supplies for screening, testing and personal protective equipment to better serve our seniors in need.”