Bronstein's Children

Jurek Becker, Author, Leila Vennewitz, Translator Houghton Mifflin Harcourt P $19.95 (264p) ISBN 978-0-15-114350-4
Eighteen-year-old Hans, a German Jew, plans to use his family's cottage in the woods to make love to his girlfriend, but he arrives there to find his father and two other men beating an aged, handcuffed man. The prisoner is a former Nazi concentration camp guard who had tortured the trio 30 years ago. While this ambivalent novel fails to develop its stunning premise, it offers a disquieting parable on the relationship between victim and persecutor, the thirst for justice and on the abyss separating Germany's affluent postwar generation from the not-so-distant past. Hans sees his father reduced from a Hercules to a sadistic torturer; his violent, confused sister is almost poisoned by a nurse in a mental home; his classmates' loutish remarks may be motivated by anti-Semitism. Set in East Berlin in 1973, Becker's believable fable profiles a thoughtful adolescent growing up in a spiritual vacuum. (Nov.)
Reviewed on: 11/03/1988
Release date: 11/01/1988
Paperback - 272 pages - 978-0-226-04127-8
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