After Bexhet Konar escapes fascist Hungary and crosses the ocean to find Jozef, the man who saved his life in 1919, he falls in love with Jozef's daughter, Hannah, enlists in World War II, and is drawn into a personal war of revenge. Many years later, their youngest son, Samuel, is taken prisoner in Vietnam and returns home with a heroin addiction and deep physical and psychological wounds. As Samuel travels his own path toward healing, his son will graduate from Annapolis as a Marine on his way to Iraq.
Krivak’s prose is earthy, assured, and exquisitely rendered in evocative descriptions of the natural world juxtaposed with visceral combat scenes. The language is lush, alternating in cadence to reflect the action and settings. The accounts of survival in war-torn countries are particularly striking, illustrating the dichotomy of beauty and death. Krivak is equally adept at exploring the emotional sinews connecting family, community, and country.
This intensely readable whopper of a book provides a nuanced perspective on the human struggle to survive war through the lens of Hungary and the Roma people. The mystical connection to family and nature across space and time in the form of a bear provides a special twist.