Downloading PDF. Please wait... Issue

Blind to Unfamiliar Forms of Light—a universal story of racism, oppression and resistance

This article is over 1 years, 4 months old
Beccy Palmer’s novella Blind to Unfamiliar Forms of Light makes the lessons of the Holocaust relevant to the struggles of today, writes Emma Davis
The front cover of the book Blind to Unfamiliar Forms of Light features black and white family photographs and a bombed 1940s European cityscape

Blind to Unfamiliar Forms of Light – a story of racism and resistance

In this novella, Grandma (Booba) re-tells a tragic, yet powerful story of the Holocaust, which speaks to the continued fight against the far right and ­fascism today.

Blind to Unfamiliar Forms of Light has the potential to speak to young people. It can act as a catalyst for discussions about the horrors of the Holocaust and how we can continue to demand “Never Again”.

Booba feels she must share this story, as it resonates with the sexism, racism and bigotry she sees in society today. For her, these problems are not innate in human nature but are ­constructed by those in power who seek to divide us.

She does not share names or places—she wants the reader to imagine it is their own community, their own city. Booba’s story in Blind to Unfamiliar Forms of Light follows a dancer and her group of artist friends as they are captured by the Nazis and tracks their journey from the ghetto to the concentration camp.

The characters have depth, making the reader feel that you know them immediately. The relationships are based on love and comradeship, and this is felt even more acutely and urgently as their lives are torn apart.

The horror of what awaits them pervades everything—but so does their desire to question, challenge and resist. The group of artists acknowledge that the reason they are seen as a threat is that they recreate, question and challenge the world around them.

Questioning is at the heart of Blind to Unfamiliar Forms of Light. At one point the group debates whether art produced by their oppressor could still have artistic merit. What if it is performed by the oppressed? Could it be a form of resistance?

Once in the camp, when forced to perform by an SS Guard, the dancer sparks a revolt. The prisoners are not simply victims, but also part of the resistance.

Booba asks, what is that made the dancer revolt?  What is it that drives any of us to fight back? The book urges the reader to discuss these questions as part of the continued struggle against the threat of fascism today.

Sign up for our daily email update ‘Breakfast in Red’

Latest News

Make a donation to Socialist Worker

Help fund the resistance