Charles Simic at Literary Hub:
The Book of Blam is the first of three novels about the Holocaust in Yugoslavia written by the Serbian writer Aleksandar Tišma, the other two being The Use of Man and Kapo. It was published in 1972 in Belgrade and was well received, as were the two books that followed. Tišma’s work was translated into 17 languages and he became internationally known. Although a child of a Serbian father and Jewish mother, who lost relatives on his mother’s side in the Holocaust, Tišma came to the subject of the camps late: He attributed this new interest of his to a trip he took to Poland in the 1960s and a visit he made to Auschwitz that reminded him of the horrors he registered as a boy but had learned not to think about in order to keep his sanity. The trip to Poland made him realize that he had a history he could not run away from. As Tišma’s compatriot Danilo Kiš noted, “One doesn’t become a writer accidentally, one’s biography is the first and the greatest cause.” Tišma would have agreed. In one of his journals he describes himself as a bug who had survived the bug spray and whose role now is to convey to the descendants of the killers the atrocities their fathers and grandfathers perpetrated on their millions of victims.
Tišma was born in 1928 in Horgoš, a town on the border of Serbia and Hungary, where thousands of Syrian war refugees lately have massed while waiting to be allowed passage to Western Europe. His father came from Lika, an impoverished region in western Croatia inhabited by many Serbs.