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This first novel from an award-winning poet -- a #1 best-seller in Canada -- is certain to propel her into the front ranks of our very best practitioners of contemporary fiction.
It is a story of World War II as remembered and imagined by one of its survivors: a poet named Jakob Beer, traumatically orphaned as a young child and smuggled out of Poland, first to a Greek island (where he will return as an adult), and later to Toronto. It is the story of how, over his lifetime, Jakob learns the power of language -- to destroy, to omit, to obliterate, but also to restore and to conjure, witness and tell -- as he comes to understand and experience what was lost to him and of what is possible for him to regain.
Profoundly moving, brilliantly written -- as sensual and lyric as it is emotionally resonant -- Fugitive Pieces delves into the most difficult workings of the human heart and mind: the grief and healing of remembrance. It is a first novel of astonishing achievement.
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Anne Michaels, an accomplished poet, has already published two collections of poetry in her native Canada. She turns her hand to fiction in an impressive debut novel, Fugitive Pieces. This is the story of Jakob Beer, a Polish Jew, translator, and poet who, as a child, witnessed his family's slaughter at the hands of the Nazis. Beer himself was found and smuggled out of Poland by Athos Roussos, a Greek archaeologist who carried him back to Greece and kept him there in precarious safety. After the war they emigrated together to Canada. Jakob's story is told through diaries discovered by Ben, a young man whose parents are Holocaust survivors and who is a vessel for their memories just as Jakob is the bearer of his own.
Fugitive Pieces is a book about memory and forgetting. How is it possible to love the living when our hearts are still with the dead? What is the difference between what historical fact tells us and what we remember? More than that, the novel is a meditation on the power of language to free our souls and allow us to find our own destinies.From the Publisher:
"This extraordinarily beautiful novel is a world. A book miraculously created because it mends the hopeless and dances with loss. Trust and read it."
"Anne Michaels has created a world of stunning, heartbreaking clarity where even the unspeakable is captured in the light-web of her words. She is a superb poet, a breath-stopping storyteller."
"Fugitive Pieces is an utterly mesmerizing novel told from the core of a poet's soul focusing upon our very prosaic world. It does what all great novels do: illuminate through the lights of language and intelligence the heart of a hitherto hidden human landscape."
"Searing the mind with stunning images while seducing with radiant prose, this brilliant first novel is a story of damaged lives and the indestructibility of the human spirit. The novel will make readers yearn to share it with others, to read sentences and entire passages out loud, to debate its message, to acknowledge its wisdom."
"A stunning work, quite beautifully written. A moving tale of survival becomes a grave and stately hymn to the revivifying qualities of language and learning."
"There are times when the novel's reflections become as piercing and unsettling as the deep wisdom of saints and visionaries ... Moments like this -- and they are frequent -- imbue the novel with a rare and strange and sometimes eerie power."
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