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The Ash Garden (2001)
by Dennis Bock
Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0375727493, Paperback)The unprecedented impact, ideology, and geographic scope of the Second World War continue to attract new novelists who hammer the history out a little thinner each time, highlighting lesser-known massacres or sifting through minor characters to discover a representative but undiscovered guide. Dennis Bock's poignant book The Ash Garden personalizes the epic bombing of Hiroshima through Anton Böll, a German émigré physicist, and Emiko, a Japanese victim of the bomb. Bombmaker and bombed, they balance this incisive, symmetrical novel and its sustained inquiry into remorse and forgiveness.
One of 25 Hiroshima Maidens relocated from post-war Japan to America for corrective plastic surgery, Emiko remains in the U.S. as a student, then as a filmmaker. The novel is at its best with her, from the heavy losses that surround her recovery in Japan to the awkwardness of immigrating to the nation that is both her tormentor and her savior. Meanwhile, Anton, her opposite number, doesn't just return home from war, he returns having irrevocably changed war. Stubbornly proud of his work and estranged from his isolated, ailing wife, Anton offers no home to remorse, and his conflicted legacy takes a lifetime to heal. Heal it does, though, just as Anton and Emiko meet and begin to discuss their roles in the bombing. The climax may be too much for readers impatient with a Dickensian full-cast ending: like those of John Irving, Bock's symmetries are delightful to discover at the halfway point but disappointingly conspicuous by the novel's close. --Darryl Whetter
(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 14 Apr 2011 10:23:59 -0400)
"A scientist stealing across the Pyrenees into Spain, then smuggled into America... A young woman quarantined on a ship wandering the Atlantic, her family stranded in Austria... A girl playing on a riverbank as a solitary airplane appears on the horizon... Lives already in motion, unsettled by war, and about to change beyond reckoning - their pasts blurred and their destinies at once defined and distorted by an inconceivable event. For that man was bound for the desert of Los Alamos, the woman unexpectedly en route to a refugee camp, the girl at Ground Zero and that plane the Enola Gay. In August of 1945, in a blinding flash, Hiroshima sees the dawning of the modern age."--BOOK JACKET.
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