There is no sense of any tragedy looming, even though the Germans are moving into the house of the wealthiest Jew, just down the street…Things will be just the same as they always were—so we are assured by the elderly of Piaski.
When Nazis invade Poland, Benjamin is forced into hiding with his wife and her child, Benjamin’s adopted son Daniel. After a dramatic escape from a concentration camp, the trio undertake a risky trek across the country and into Russia, before reaching Japan and being helped to find passage to Palestine. When the boat they are travelling on has engine problems, they find themselves stranded in Calcutta and it is in this city that they find a home and an unlikely sense of belonging.
There Where the pepper Grows is a moving historical story of a family affected not just by war, but by religious persecution. Set amidst the backdrop of World War II and its aftermath, including the movement towards India’s independence from Britain, this is much more than one family’s story. Rather, it is a tale of survival and of humanity, and a lesson in the need for tolerance and understanding.
The author, Bem Le Hunte, uses her own experiences – she was born in India – and those of relatives and other real people, to build the stories of Benjamin and Daniel.
A gripping and humbling read.
There Where the Pepper Grows, by Bem Le Hunte
Harper Collins, 2005