Jonathan Krumecadyk’s Sick’s Million is most probably unlike any Holocaust book you ever read before, for better or for worse. The story vacillates between the unsettling and downright disturbing on the one hand, to the imaginative and thought-provoking on the other, leaving the reader - any reader – puzzled and appalled at times, but also fascinated and pleasingly curious about what’s to come in this mad adventure.
The story advances along two parallel tracks: An imaginary concentration camp inhibited by some truly zany characters, and the author’s own modern-day existence. The main character, Jonathan, is a budding Tel Aviv-based writer who embarks on an ambitious mission: Writing an epic novel about a Nazi camp. However, soon the life of our hero – as well as the lives of the camp’s dwellers – is swept into a whirlwind of emotions and bizarre occurrences, as someone steals the first chapters of the manuscript and publishes them online.
Book cover (Designed by Bracket Media)
From there, the story shifts between developments at Gardelegen camp to the often improbable and amusing advances in Jonathan’s own life, which as can be expected completely changes in light of the unforeseen attention he suddenly garners. Indeed, the story takes the reader through a mad rush, all the way to the devastating ending.
There are many ways in which one can describe Sick’s Million. On the one hand, it offers a vivid, even if imaginary, description of life at the camp that often delves into the grotesque and politically incorrect. Among other things, readers will find what many would consider badly chosen dialogue on the train heading to the camp, or the improbable introduction of “ZykleKopfe” (Zykleheads,) camp prisoners who escape the harsh realities of life through an addiction to Zyklon nurtured at a secret on-site facility.
This is just one of many unexpected concepts peppered throughout the book, including some implausible ones, as the author himself points out (through cleverly inserted “reader feedback” contained within the novel.) Yet the book is also a fascinating tale, with a surprising plot and constant twists that keep the reader turning the pages, waiting for the next “surprise.”
Yet beyond the storyline, the novel’s main value and uniqueness may lie in the way it brings the Holocaust into modern-day life, in a manner which most books on the subject have not done. The story of Jonathan’s current-day life is replete with “modernity”, including many references to technological advancements (the Internet plays a major role in the story), slang, pop culture, and more generally, the world as seen through the eyes of a young man in the 21st Century.
This “clash” between the horrors of the Holocaust and the contemporary mindset raises imperative questions in respect to the Holocaust’s place in today’s world, and even more so, to the way we can expect it to be perceived and addressed in the future.
Throughout the book, Jonathan – the main character – makes it clear that he is deeply aware of the meaning of the Shoah, and that he is in no way attempting to make light of it – yet ultimately his efforts seem to do just that on occasion. Does he deserve to be condemned for it? Or perhaps praised, for allowing today’s young generation to relate to the Holocaust more easily perhaps? Indeed, the questions raised by the book have no simple answers and merit future discussion.
Sick’s Million is not for everyone, as many will likely find it offensive, at least at certain junctions. Yet looking beyond the provocative would enable the reader to consider some tough questions and possibly troubling ideas, all while enjoying a well-designed and often thrilling plot. We can perhaps sum it up best in the words of one of the fictitious “readers” whose feedback appears in the book itself: “Let’s turn our backs on childish and vulgar ideas like these. Not that I won’t read on. I will…”