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Truth, Lies, and Politics in the Debate over Testimonial Writing: The Cases of Rigoberta Menchu and Binjamin Wilkomirski

Truth, Lies, and Politics in the Debate over Testimonial Writing: The Cases of Rigoberta Menchu... lynn walford Truth,Lies, and Politics in the Debate overTestimonial Writing TheCases of RigobertaMenchú and Binjamin Wilkomirski In 1985Me llamo Rigoberta Menchú yasí me nació la conciencia (I, Rigoberta Men- chú: An Indian Woman in Guatemala), the testimony of an obscure Guatemalan campesina about her own and her family’s experiences during their country’s civil war, gained international attention and ultimately played an important role in bringing about the end of that war. Partly on the basis of her powerful book, in 1992 Menchú was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. Three years later Binjamin Wilkomir- ski, a Latvian Jew living in Switzerland, publishedBruchstücke (Fragments), a mem- oir of his childhood experience in the Nazi death camps. The book won numerous awards in Europe and the United States, and Wilkomirski became an instant celeb- rity, not only as the author of a compelling work of testimonial literature, but as a spokesperson for, and champion of, countless other child Holocaust survivors. Not long after their respective publications, both books were exposed as par- tial or complete fabrications. Menchú was shown to have embellished facts and in- vented incidents, that is, to have stretched the truth to promote her cause, whereas Wilkomirski had apparently http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png The Comparatist University of North Carolina Press

Truth, Lies, and Politics in the Debate over Testimonial Writing: The Cases of Rigoberta Menchu and Binjamin Wilkomirski

The Comparatist , Volume 30 – Apr 26, 2006

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Publisher
University of North Carolina Press
Copyright
Copyright © 2006 the Southern Comparative Literature Association.
ISSN
1559-0887

Abstract

lynn walford Truth,Lies, and Politics in the Debate overTestimonial Writing TheCases of RigobertaMenchú and Binjamin Wilkomirski In 1985Me llamo Rigoberta Menchú yasí me nació la conciencia (I, Rigoberta Men- chú: An Indian Woman in Guatemala), the testimony of an obscure Guatemalan campesina about her own and her family’s experiences during their country’s civil war, gained international attention and ultimately played an important role in bringing about the end of that war. Partly on the basis of her powerful book, in 1992 Menchú was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. Three years later Binjamin Wilkomir- ski, a Latvian Jew living in Switzerland, publishedBruchstücke (Fragments), a mem- oir of his childhood experience in the Nazi death camps. The book won numerous awards in Europe and the United States, and Wilkomirski became an instant celeb- rity, not only as the author of a compelling work of testimonial literature, but as a spokesperson for, and champion of, countless other child Holocaust survivors. Not long after their respective publications, both books were exposed as par- tial or complete fabrications. Menchú was shown to have embellished facts and in- vented incidents, that is, to have stretched the truth to promote her cause, whereas Wilkomirski had apparently

Journal

The ComparatistUniversity of North Carolina Press

Published: Apr 26, 2006

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