The war had been going on for a few months, and rumors became the only source of more or less credible information. The rumors about Jews differed. Some said that when Germans occupied a new town, the first thing they did was to put all the Jews on cattle trains and ship them away. Others said that Germans didn't bother to ship Jews anywhere; they just drove them together to the edge of a town or to a big ravine and shot them all. Everyone: men, women, and children. A few refugees from Kiev, where Raya's parents lived, added more ghastly details. Tanya began asking Galina: "Do they make Jews take off all their clothes? Underpants too? Do they throw all the Jews into a big pit and then burn them alive? Have they burned Leeza's grandma?" Galina told her to stop listening to nonsense. But Tanya wouldn't stop: "Do they also burn kids? Will they burn Leeza?" Galina told her to shut up. Raya also couldn't stop talking about that. She was running around town, looking for refugees and asking them more and more questions. She said she was sure that they were telling the truth. She said she could feel that her mother was dead.
Excerpted from There Are Jews in My House by Lara Vapnyar Copyright© 2003 by Lara Vapnyar. Excerpted by permission of Pantheon, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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