21.06.10 | Catherine Neilan and Caroline Horn
Andersen Press is writing to the Sunday Times "correcting and clarifying" an article published this weekend, which claimed a forthcoming book sexualised Anne Frank.
The young adult novel Annexed by Sharon Dogar, due out in September, is a fictionalised account of life hiding from the Nazis and in the concentration camps told from the perspective of Frank's friend Peter van Pels.
According to the article, written by Sunday Times arts editor Richard Brooks, the novel includes "graphic accounts of Peter's desire for Anne and intimate scenes between the two, although a scene of lovemaking was removed from the final version". It has already provoked a response from the Anne Frank Trust, which described the publication as "opportunistic", adding there were "fears it will cause offence to Holocaust survivors and familes of Holocaust victims".
But the children's publisher has defended the book, with publisher Klaus Flugge describing the article as "absolutely ridiculous".
He said: "Judging from the comments in the media, hardly anyone has read the book, which is written with tact and sensitivity. There are no sexual scenes in it. I think it's a wonderful book and it's not salacious or controversial at all." Flugge also described Dogar as "an author of great quality".
Clare Simms, marketing and publicity manager, said: "The book tells Peter's story. The media are focusing on the relationship between him and Anne but that's only part of the story, it's also about Peter's experiences in the concentration camp and the very extreme circumstances that an ordinary Jewish boy found himself in at that time."
The article also claims Frank's only living relative, Buddy Elias, was "highly critical" of aspects of the book, saying the characterisation of the children was inaccurate.
The letter, which Andersen is sending to other media outlets including the Daily Telegraph—which followed up the Times piece—is "correcting and clarifying" the articles. It will also stress that Dogar had been in contact with Elias, who had "wished the book well", Simms said.
"Sharon was very respectful of him: the communication was very positive, and the article doesn’t give that impression at all," said Simms. "What she is accused of doing is totally untrue and upsetting – it’s important that we set the record straight." Andersen Press is also writing a counter-argument, which will appear in the Guardian this week.
Simms added: "We worked with the estate of Anne Frank and Buddy Elias, her only remaining relative. Sharon contacted him out of respect and communicated with him cordially and he was happy about the book. The Foundation were contacted but did not want to agree to any book to do with Anne Frank."