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Publisher's Summary

"One of the most harrowing, powerful, and imaginative books of the year" (Anthony Doerr), about twin sisters fighting to survive the evils of World War II.

Pearl is in charge of the sad, the good, the past.

Stasha must care for the funny, the future, the bad.

It's 1944 when the twin sisters arrive at Auschwitz with their mother and grandfather. In their benighted new world, Pearl and Stasha Zagorski take refuge in their identical natures, comforting themselves with the private language and shared games of their childhood.

As part of the experimental population of twins known as Mengele's Zoo, the girls experience privileges and horrors unknown to others, and they find themselves changed, stripped of the personalities they once shared, their identities altered by the burdens of guilt and pain.

That winter, at a concert orchestrated by Mengele, Pearl disappears. Stasha grieves for her twin but clings to the possibility that Pearl remains alive. When the camp is liberated by the Red Army, she and her companion, Feliks - a boy bent on vengeance for his own lost twin - travel through Poland's devastation. Undeterred by injury, starvation, and the chaos around them, motivated by equal parts danger and hope, they encounter hostile villagers, Jewish resistance fighters, and fellow refugees, their quest enabled by the notion that Mengele may be captured and brought to justice within the ruins of the Warsaw Zoo. As the young survivors discover what has become of the world, they must try to imagine a future within it.

A superbly crafted story, told in a voice as exquisite as it is boundlessly original, Mischling defies every expectation, traversing one of the darkest moments in human history to show us the way toward ethereal beauty, moral reckoning, and soaring hope.

PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying reference material will be available in your Library section along with the audio.

©2016 Affinity Konar (P)2016 Hachette Audio

Critic Reviews

" Mischling is a phenomenal book - harrowing and heartbreaking, intimate and epic - and Affinity Konar is a wise and compassionate writer with talent in spades. An achingly beautiful novel that will stay with me for a long, long time." (Molly Antopol, author of The UnAmericans)
"This novel, haunted by history and the unknowable power of family, is made bearable - indeed, necessary - by the spectacle of a literary imagination that observes no limits. Konar has produced a tremendously unsettled work of art." (Ben Marcus, author of The Flame Alphabet)
"Affinity Konar's Mischling is a tale of courage, courageously told - spare and beautiful, riveting and heartrending. Half of me wanted to linger over every page, the other half insisted I race ahead. It's a case of extraordinary storytelling from first page to transcendent last." (David Wroblewski, author of the New York Times best seller The Story of Edgar Sawtelle)

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What members say

Average Customer Ratings

Overall

  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Story

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Beautiful, horrible, brilliant!

Words fail. This was a beautiful terrible story of horror and hope, of love and loss, of the best and the absolute worse of humanity. I wept and was overwhelmed, but couldn't stop listening. The author wrote this book with such care and balance. I highly suggest reading (or listening to) it. The narration on Audible was absolutely perfect.

13 of 13 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Moving

The author takes us on a journey through Auschwitz and Mengela's zoo. The people who did and didn't survive. But she does this without focusing on the psychopath that Mengela was Instead focusing on the people who suffered.

13 of 13 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Provocative, evocative, beautifully crafted

Konar creates a world between the two young girls whose twinhood sustains them in the face of unimaginable tortures. The beauty of the language used to describe the horrors of Mengele's zoo makes them all the more devastating. This tale, woven around history, is compelling, breathtaking, will lay the reader bare and make tears fall. That anyone survived the camps is always amazing, but the story of these two girls, of what they endure and how they endured is awful, terrifying and beautiful.
I may go back to the beginning to listen again to appreciate the brilliant writing even more now that I know the beautiful story.

9 of 10 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Compelling

A beautiful, profound and disturbing book. Great narrator and lovely prose. The story is uplifting, too, in its triumph of human spirit.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

A sincere and powerful book.

If you could sum up Mischling in three words, what would they be?

Compelling and provocative.

Which character – as performed by Vanessa Johansson – was your favorite?

Vanessa Johansson brought life to every character - good and evil.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

Yes

Any additional comments?

I am so glad I listened to this narrative. It flowed with grace, even during the darkest moments. This story was meant to be told, although we've different versions of it since WW2 ended ... this version crept deep into my soul. Its a tale of sadistic violence countered with tender faith and hope. A novel I will surely listen to again and share with my children.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

*We Will Never Forget*...So much to remember


Tear drops are as much a part of this novel as the words. It doesn't escape me that today is the 15th anniversary of 911. A moment of teary silence offered for almost 3,000 human beings snuffed out...each significant tear drop added to an ocean of atrocities.

Mischling -- "mixed blood" a term meant to signify an flaw or inferiority, used by the Third Reich for those of both Aryan and Jewish blood -- is a horrible story by default, as the summary promises it will be. Josef Mengele, aka the Angel of Death, barbaric experimentation on twins, why would I want to read this book--even with its starred reviews and high praise? There's enough inhumanity and brutality happening everyday to make me full of it and sick of it; it threatens to dull my senses and harden my heart. ["!?Where will we put 10,000 refugees from the lands of those who hate us so much that they would use a child to harm our own?!"] (The obvious political arguments and corrections come afterwards.) Then I woke up today on the 11th of September and remembered the full scope of why we must "never forget." I want to read to expand what I should remember -- to see beyond the landscape of hatred from which those enemies of mankind want me to live a blunted wrathful life. The question is does this fictional piece honor the memory of the 6 million we must also never forget?

Konar uses an interesting and powerful approach to capture this black time in history. The story is narrated in turns by the twins, using the bright language of children and the games the sisters create to pretend away the barbarity -- to accept the unacceptable. It is their naïveté and fragile innocence through which we experience the abominations. How does a child fear a handsome monster that strokes their head kindly and offers candy? Konar uses her skill as a writer rather than relying on easy sentimentality. And, that is not exactly a merciful omission...us adults educated on the history of the Third Reich fill in each violation beyond the vocabulary of a child. The *tactic* is uncomfortably successful.

The girls take on a beautiful nobility through their steadfast love for one another and their hope--a tiny flicker that wouldn't be diminished by even the darkest forces. Their story leaves us a little wounded, but surprisingly restored and recommitted (I won't go as far as to say optimistic). Strengthened by their caring for one another, they were able to fight and endure evil without becoming evil. A noble battle. Does it honor the memories of the 6,000,000; enrich our reasoning of why it is important to remember 3,000, enlarge our humanity enough to embrace 10,000 before they are also remembered with tears and silence? I think so, I hope so. I don't know. You will have to ask your own heart.

It won't diminish your opinion of this book if I voice mine. I dropped a * because...the second half of the novel started to drag a little and seemed a weak and neat wrap-up to me. The tie in of the *zoos* at the beginning and end (Auschwitz and a city zoo), was almost unbearable (NPI), clumsy and amateurish in an otherwise impressive and inspiring book.



24 of 31 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Great listen, wonerful narration .

Would you listen to Mischling again? Why?

Yes I would. I believe everytime I did listen to it again , I would hear details I missed the first time.

What other book might you compare Mischling to and why?

'Orpan Train" was reminiscent of "Mischling ". It was a fantastic book, and the the story was from a child's viewpoint, but told by an actual survivor of the camps.

What does Vanessa Johansson bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

She brings so many nuances to each character. You can actually tell who is speaking , she does so without sounding strained.

If you could take any character from Mischling out to dinner, who would it be and why?

Dr Mengele , a very strange choice, I'm certain. But, I would just try to draw him out and see how he ticks. I believe every terrible treatment he put his patients through was to satisfy his own hypothesizes about the science behind psychology and physiology.


He was the most twisted, evil, sadistic man I can think of who had an unlimited supply of "patients " . Also going unpunished, I would really like to arrange a vacation for him to a Nazi unfriendly area!

Any additional comments?

I recommend this book for anyone who is interested in war accounts. the narrator does such a great job. I've always believe in the axom " Those who do not remember the past, are doomed to repeat it" Anyone who keeps up with world history , ` there are thousands of the

always atocious examples of this truth.``

I loved this book in particular because it does not describe, in detail the torture twins endured. Certainly, these terrible exams, humiliations, and so-called experiments are included. The reader feels transported to the narrators world. The Zoo , as the twins area was called , were treated special due to their special status.

5 of 6 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Breathtaking

This well researched book, with its elegant prose, painted dichotomy as picturesque. The reader has access to the musings of identical twin girls; and access to their decidedly distinctive processing of their collective horrors. It's a must-read. I couldn't put it down.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Devastating and beautiful

Given the subject material, Mischling should have been much more difficult to get through. But Konar is such a brilliant writer she was able to illuminate the smallest fragments of goodness that, against all odds, continued to exist both within the confines of Auschweitz and outside. The use of two alternating voices -- those of identical twin girls Stasha and Pearl -- was useful because it provided two differing views to both the experiences under Mengele's sadistic watch, as well as two approaches to survival. Of note is that Stasha represented the urge or need for revenge while Pearl focused on forgiveness.

Mengele and the twins, simply put, represent the flip sides of humanity: evil on one side, goodness on the other. This is a painful but necessary read. Humans are capable of inflicting such cruel acts upon each other, but we are equally able to move beyond that evil and choose a life of renewal, optimism, and love.

in the end, I found Mischling to be profoundly life-affirming without resorting to overt sentimentality or preciousness. Well done!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Incredible tale of human nature

Would you listen to Mischling again? Why?

Yes

Who was your favorite character and why?

Pearl for her ability to forgive

What about Vanessa Johansson’s performance did you like?

She is flawless

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

Yes

Any additional comments?

This book is a beautifully written story of the nature of human beings. A story of evil and destruction told through hope and perseverance. Konar's use of language is superb with so many beautiful passages, you'll want to buy the printed copy too. Konar does not gloss over the torture and torment, the atrocities, or the cruelness of man. The book was often times difficult to listen to due to because of the subject matter, but it is a stark reminder of what we are, what are past reflects and what our future should be wary of. This should be required reading for all people, young and old.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful