I have always been into historical fiction. Over the past few years, I have learned more about the Jewish communities around the world and their histories. I took AP European history back in the day, but looking back, there were so many things that even my astute teacher didn’t even tell us. One thing that really stood out to me was the history of Thessaloniki, Greece. I had no idea that they had such a vibrant community, but the amazing book Family Papers, by Sara Abrevaya Stein, taught me so much and inspired me to research more.
As I did more digging, I thought about a story idea that has evolved over the past year: essentially, I wanted to write a book that alternates between the perspectives of two Sephardic Jews—one in New York, and the other in Nazi-occupied Thessaloniki, who end up eventually crossing paths. (Disclaimer: I am not Jewish myself. I was raised Christian and while I do have Sephardic roots, I want to stay in my lane and not overstep any bounds if I decide to go forward with writing this story).
Obviously, this story will heavily deal with the Holocaust. I reached out to this subreddit to get feedback as what to do/not to do when writing these kinds of stories. I understand that the “Holocaust genre” consists of a lot of stories in poor taste—especially The Boy in the Striped Pajamas. I do not want to write anything that would be disrespectful to the victims of the Shoah and their surviving relatives. I am aware of the basic etiquette, such as not being an apologist for the Nazis or writing a Jewish/Nazi romance (I have seen a couple of those and find them vile), but what other tropes should I avoid?
If anyone has any good book recommendations or resources I can use for research, please mention them to me! Even if I do not end up writing this story, I am a very curious person and love learning.
Finally, if it is not my place to write a story about the Holocaust as a non-Jew, please be straightforward and tell me that. The last thing I want to do is cause harm or be disrespectful toward your community.