In this extraordinary collection of essays, historians, novelists and philosophers ponder the imponderable: Was the effort to exterminate the Jewish people a unique historic event or does it fit into a larger context? Is there justification for creating Holocaust fiction? Is humour an appropriate tool in Holocaust literature? Must a work about the Holocaust have redemptive value? With some exceptions, the essays were presented as papers at a 1987 conference at SUNY Albany. Among the participants were Saul Friedlander, Raul Hilberg and Aharon Appelfeld. Although a few contributions are oppressively intellectual, many brilliantly interweave anecdotes and issues to arrive at insights into the awesome task of writing about the Holocaust. Appelfeld, for example, vividly recollects pitiful child survivors who performed snatches of Jewish songs for coins before concluding, "The problem...has been to remove the Holocaust from its enormous, inhuman dimensions and bring it close to human beings."