Close to Jedenew

Kevin Vennemann, Author, Ross Benjamin, Translator , trans. from the German by Ross Benjamin. Melville $13 (130p) ISBN 978-1-933633-39-8

Setting this haunting, stream-of-consciousness tale in a generic rural Polish village (jeden in German means “every”), Vennemann writes in the first-person voice of an unnamed 16-year-old Jewish girl, who recounts the German army's arrival there at the beginning of WWII. Up to that point, her family of non-practicing Jews has been living among the Polish farmers in an uneasy détente. Beloved elder brother Marek, an apprentice to his father's veterinarian practice, has converted to Catholicism in order to marry Antonina, pregnant with their daughter, Julia. But when the Germans take over the village houses, the Polish villagers turn into a drunken, raging mob, and the family takes refuge in their tree house. Tales of love and adventure recounted countless times by the father and Marek sustain the family as they anxiously await their fate, while a foreboding sense of fried circuitry and doom infuses their telling. Masterly and chilling, Vennemann's work captures a small moment of humanity within a larger machinery of evil and hate. (Aug.)

Reviewed on: 06/23/2008
Release date: 07/01/2008
Genre: Fiction
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