Time of the Pheasant

Otto F. Walter, Author, Lelia Vennewitz, Translator, Leila Vennewitz, Translator Fromm International $21.95 (412p) ISBN 978-0-88064-129-6
Simultaneously a political inquiry, a murder mystery and a novel of ideas, Walter's broad narrative focuses on Switzerland's dubious neutrality during WW II when many facist, anti-Semitic groups sprouted on Swiss soil, calling for an authoritarian government. In 1982 Thom Winter, a Swiss historian in Berlin, leaves behind his German journalist girlfriend and returns to his hometown in Switzerland to investigate what prompted an entry in his aunt's diary that indicates his mother may have been murdered years ago. Buffeted by his eccentric, slightly sinister aunt, his unapproachable alcoholic sister and his anarchist mentor, Thom digs for the circumstances of his mother's death, and in so doing, discovers unpleasant truths about his collaborationist family, owners of a steelworks. With flashbacks to the 1930s, shards of European history, letters and mythic tableaux featuring the matricidal Orestes as a symbol of war-like patriarchy vanquishing peaceful matriarchy, Walter sustains a powerful meditation on the nightmare of modern history. (Nov.)
Reviewed on: 09/30/1991
Release date: 10/01/1991
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