How I Came to Know Fish
by Ota Pavel
Unassuming and unforgettable, the stories of How I Came to Know Fish memorialize Ota Pavel’s childhood in Czechoslovakia––his beloved family, the flash of fish in clear streams, and the annihilation of this world by the Nazis. His father (a wildly canny fisherman) first has his fish pond confiscated (“How can a Jew breed carp?”) and then, with his two older sons, is sent to a concentration camp. Too young to work in the camps, Ota remains with his gentile mother. Fish save them from starving, as he takes to poaching carp reserved for the Wehrmacht. These stories, some of which originally appeared in a Czech version of Field and Stream, are profoundly poignant and have long been treasured by the Czechoslovakians.