Now comes another fake memoir, once again promoted by Oprah. Actually, this book hasn’t been published yet (and now won’t be), although another author wrote a children’s book based on the story as told to Oprah by Herman and Roma Rosenblat. The Rosenblats supposedly met when he was in a concentration camp and she kept him alive by sneaking apples to him.
And once again, people are questioning Oprah Winfrey. The New York Times says:
Certainly, industry observers wondered how editors at Berkley and producers for Ms. Winfrey did not at least question the veracity of Mr. Rosenblat’s story, given some improbable details. In the book, he wrote not only that he reunited with his wife in New York years after she threw apples to him over the fence, but also that he had actually gone on a blind date with her in Israel a few years earlier but did not recognize her when he met her again.I think it’s a bit unfair to blame Oprah. First off, Rosenblat wasn’t writing a book when he first appeared on the show, so she wasn’t having him on to promote a book for her club. And secondly, is it the responsibility of media personality to vet each author? Is it her fault that he lied? Is it her fault a publisher signed a book deal with him?
“You’d think somebody would say, ‘Hmm, that’s amazing, let’s just spend an hour or a day seeing how plausible that is,’ ” said Kurt Andersen, the novelist and host of the public radio program “Studio 360.”
I think the blame should be laid on the perpetrator. In this case, the author. He didn’t just make a mistake in his research. That can happen to any author. He lied. He made up a huge part of his story and only owned up to it when he was caught.
According to the Boston Herald,
Rosenblat maintains that his descriptions of people and events inside the Buchenwald camp in Germany are true. But he now concedes he made up the romantic tale about his future wife sneaking him apples at the fence of the camp. He came clean only after several Holocaust scholars, writing in blogs and in an article in The New Republic, pointed out that it would have been impossible for such a meeting at a fence because of the camp’s layout.The Rosenblats are now taking a lot of heat for what was done. The book has been cancelled. But others, including Oprah, are also taking the heat. Even the author and the publisher of the children’s book are being hurt. The Minneapolis-St. Paul Star Tribune notes:
The Minneapolis-based Lerner Publishing Group released a children's picture book, "Angel Girl," about the Rosenblats this September through its Carolrhoda Books imprint. About 15,000 of 18,000 copies were sold, said Harry Lerner, founder and chairman of the board. Marketed as a true story, "Angel Girl'' was written by Laurie Friedman, who based it on interviews with the Rosenblats and who reviewed the manuscript with them.According to the Boston Globe, the publisher has offered a refund to buyers.
The fallout continues from Herman Rosenblat's discredited Holocaust story. Laurie Friedman's "Angel Girl," a children's book inspired by Rosenblat, was pulled yesterday by the Lerner Publishing Group. Lerner Publishing is offering refunds for returned copies of the book.It isn’t like Herman Rosenblat could have been easily found out as a liar. He had credentials. He was a Holocaust survivor. He had been speaking publicly about his experiences for many years. He had the credentials.
What do you think? How much responsibility and blame should Oprah have? How about the publisher? And the children’s author who wrote a book based on what Rosenblat told her? And what about the readers who buy, read and believe books such as Frey’s A Million Little Pieces? Do we have a responsibility to question memoirs and nonfiction?