In her second novel, Schonstein offers a compelling tale of hardship and isolation, chronicling the life of Rueben ""Baby"" Cohen van Tonder, a Jewish boy raised in a Catholic orphanage in South Africa. Persecuted as an adult for his Judaism, Rueben struggles to stay afloat, toiling tirelessly in a black-township trading store and grappling with alcoholism, an unhappy marriage, and haunting memories of his mother, who died when he was child. The setting is grim, but Schonstein compellingly interweaves disparate chapters of history-from Kristallnacht in 1938 to the Soweto uprising of 1976 and South African black militancy of the 1980s-providing a rich context for an extensive web of characters whose tales of suffering and loss mirror Rueben's own. The guilt of genocide survival, the scourge of addiction, and the impossibility of true acclimation into a society of others-these are of-the-moment issues, and Schonstein tackles them capably.
Reviewed on: 10/01/2006 Release date: 10/01/2006 Genre: Fiction