Jack Dann’s groundbreaking anthologies WANDERING STARS and MORE WANDERING STARS used the tropes of science fiction, fantasy, and magical realism to ask—and try to answer!—what it means to be a Jew. In this new collection, Jack enlists the techniques of fabulation to illuminate one of the defining events in human history: the Nazi Holocaust. Author and critic Marleen Barr has written that “Dann is a Faulkner and a Márquez for Jews”; and CONCENTRATION is a testament to that claim, for these confronting and thought provoking stories are written from a perspective rarely seen in literature. CONCENTRATION is nothing less than an attempt to describe the indescribable . . . to come to terms with the unthinkable. The Holocaust was so terrible, so far on the edges of comprehension, so surreal, so psychologically cyclonic and horrific in dimension and effect that perhaps it might best be glimpsed through the reflections of metaphor and fantasy.
Dann answers the historian Hayden White’s call to revise our notion of what constitutes realistic representation in order “to take account of experiences that are unique to our century and for which older modes of representation have proven inadequate.”
And given the historical amnesia that seems to characterize our time, a work such as this is also . . . necessary.
And here’s artist Amanda Rainey’s note as to how she came up with the cover idea and design…
My thought process was mostly ruling out a lot of things first. I also didn’t want to risk offending people by using explicit Nazi imagery or anything that might seem like we were making light of the history, or being too glib about it. So I started thinking of a more abstract way of representing the feeling rather than the actual events, and I came up with an infinity symbol made of barbed wire. I think it combines one of the more literal symbols of the concentration camps, and hints at the time travel aspect and the links between past, present and future that Jack’s stories are about.
I then thought that hinting at the Nazi style guide, the solid reds, whites and blacks, but with a softer red, to again hint at the concepts without being too literal with swastikas etc.
The fonts also have historical links. The black letter is obviously suggesting the Nazi style. The other font, Futura, is was part of a set of fonts that were “outlawed” by Hitler, and the designer himself was an anti-Nazi activist. It’s also the font the Americans used for the plaque they left on the moon! So another good symbol of past and future…