The Shawl is considered a modern classic - a masterpiece in two acts. The horror and desolation evoked through piercing imagery - first through the abomination of a Holocaust concentration camp murder, second through the eyes of the murdered child's mother, thirty years later, now 'a madwoman and a scavenger' - offers the reader a chilling insight into the empty suffering of a 'survivor'. In 'The Shawl', a woman named Rosa Lublin watches a concentration camp guard murder her child, a child barely old enough to walk. The shawl that was the child's security blanket and lone possession reappears in the second story, 'Rosa'. Rosa appears thirty years later, living in a Miami hotel and feeling the strain of a lifetime of pain: the hollowness of seeing her baby killed, of managing her harrowing memories she's being told to forget, and of even now being treated as a specimen and not a human being.
Cynthia Ozick's essays, novels and short stories have won numerous prizes and awards; The Puttermesser Papers was a finalist for the National Book Award and Quarrel & Quandary was a finalist for the 1996 Pulitzer Prize. She lives in the New York City area.