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Fugitive Pieces by Anne Michaels
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Fugitive Pieces (1996)

by Anne Michaels

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2,539613,438 (3.79)1 / 370
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English (56)  Piratical (1)  Spanish (1)  Danish (1)  German (1)  Dutch (1)  All languages (61)
Showing 1-5 of 56 (next | show all)
(8.5) I have waited a long time to read this book but fear I didn't do it justice as it was a busy week with my daughter's wedding and my reading was some what disjointed and lacking in focus. Nonetheless a very good book. It features beautiful poetic writing and philosophical thoughts. ( )
  HelenBaker | Apr 27, 2018 |
I rate it 3 stars because the writing was beautiful and poetical but I didn't like the plot that much, it felt more like it was nonexistent at a point but thanks to the writing style I was able to finish it. ( )
  Denicbt | Feb 5, 2018 |
Ann Michaels' novel "Fugitive Pieces" is really just beautifully written -- she has a poet's ear for language, which really made this book enjoyable. As a bonus, she spends a bit of time of subjects that have thoroughly interested me -- Tolland man... the Scott expedition to the South Pole... these are little details that figure in the book and made it even better for me.

The story focuses on Jakob, a Jewish boy who grew up in Poland and was rescued from a dire fate in the Holocaust by a Greek archaeologist. The story is really about those left behind and how it's impossible to really escape the horrible losses past experiences inflicted.

My understanding is this was Michaels' debut novel. I would certainly read more by her considering this work was pretty stunning. ( )
  amerynth | Jan 25, 2018 |
The main character, Jakob, was a child in Poland when the Nazi's took his parents and sister while he hid in a closet. He was later rescued by a Greek writer and raised as his son in Greece. Jakob's entire life is influenced by what he had seen as a child; every minute of every day, his dreams and even his relationships. Writing seemed to be a catharsis for Jakob, albeit a temporary one. This reader wanted to get to know Jakob better, but was prevented from doing so and the reason is unknown. It was if the reader were only permitted to "see" the entire story through a fog. This was a better than average read, although not a great one and the reason for that is unclear to me. 304 pages ( )
  tess_schoolmarm | Nov 25, 2017 |
I read this seven years ago, according to Goodreads. This was one of a bunch that I imported when I joined up here but never got around to entering the review. But it was being discussed over at Bookballoon, so here's what I said back in 2010:

I found a lot of this worth reading and had no trouble finishing. But it was frustrating—not the book it could have or should have been, I think. It was written beautifully—gorgeous, often memorable language—but not constructed well. Barely constructed at all, actually. The book moves in a straight line and then, two thirds of the way along, picks up and does something else. I like my novels carefully built, and don't even mind it when I see the hand of the author at work if she succeeds. But this one didn't, really. There just wasn't enough armature to hang an otherwise moving story on. ( )
  lisapeet | Nov 21, 2017 |
Showing 1-5 of 56 (next | show all)
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During the Second World War, countless manuscripts -- diaries, memoirs, eyewitness accounts -- were lost or destroyed. Some of these narratives were deliberately hidden--buried in back gardens, tucked into walls and under floors--by those who did not live to retrieve them.
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A parable: A respected rabbi is asked to speak to the congregation of a neighboring village. The rabbi, rather famous for his practical wisdom, is approached for advice wherever he goes. Wishing to have a few hours to himself on the train, he disguises himself in shabby clothes and, with his withered posture, passes for a peasant. The disguise is so effective that he evokes disapproving stares and whispered insults from the well-to-do passengers around him. When the rabbi arrives at his destination, he's met by the dignitaries of the community who greet him with warmth and respect, tactfully ignoring his appearance. Those who ridiculed him on the train realize his prominence and their error and immediately beg his forgiveness. The old man is silent. For months after, these Jews - who, after all, consider themselves good an pious men - implore the rabbi to absolve them. Finally, when almost a year has passed, they come to the old man on the Day of Awe when, it is written, each man must forgive his fellow. But the rabbi refuses to speak. Exasperated, they finally raise their voices: How can a holy man commit such a sin -- to withhold forgiveness on this day of days? The rabbi smiles seriously . "All this time you have been asking the wrong man. You must ask the man on the train to forgive you."
The night you and I met, Jakob, I heard you tell my wife that there's a moment when love makes us believe in death for the first time. You recognize the one whose loss, even contemplated, you'll carry forever, like a sleeping child. All grief, anyone's grief, you said, is the weight of a sleeping child.
She was stopping to say goodbye and was caught, in such pain, wanting to rise, wanting to stay.
My father said, 'That man is a Hebrew and he carries the pride of his people.' Later I learned that most of the men who worked at the docks in Salonika were Jews and that the yehudi mahallari, the Hebrew quarter, was built along the harbour.
Translation is a kind of transubstantiation; one poem becomes another. You can choose your philosophy of translation just as you could choose how to live: the free adaptation that sacrifices detail to meaning, the strict crib that sacrifices meaning to exactitude. The poet moves from life to language, the translator moves from language to life; both, like the immigrant, try to identify the invisible, what’s between the lines, the mysterious implications.”
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0679776591, Paperback)

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.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:18:36 -0400)

(see all 5 descriptions)

Guardian Fiction prize - Winner 1997Orange Prize - Winner 1997Giller Prize - Shortlisted 1996; Chapters/Books in Canada Award - Winner 1997

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