At once fiercely immediate and complex in their implications, “The Shawl” and “Rosa” succeed in imagining the unimaginable: the horror of the Holocaust and the emptiness of its aftermath. They were written in 1977 but were first published in the early 1980s in The New Yorker. Both “The Shawl” and “Rosa” won first prize in the O. Henry Prize Stories and were chosen for Best American Short Stories.
In “The Shawl,” a woman named Rosa Lublin watches a concentration camp guard murder her daughter. In “Rosa,” that same woman appears thirty years later, “a madwoman and a scavenger” in a Miami hotel. And in both stories there is a shawl—a shawl that can sustain a starving child or inadvertently destroy her, or even magically conjure her back to life.