Last Impressions

Joseph Kertes. Viking Canada, $18.95 trade paper (320p) ISBN 978-0-7352-3821-3
Kertes (The Afterlife of Stars) delivers a bittersweet tale of a Jewish Hungarian survivor of WWII. Zoltan Beck immigrated to Toronto with his young family during the revolution of 1956. Now, in 2012, Zoltan’s wife has recently died and Zoltan, who has colon cancer, is being looked after by his son, Ben, a teacher, and Ben’s wife, Lucy. Ben is patient with his father, who is exasperating in his will to maintain his independence. Zoltan’s travails in the present are interspersed with flashbacks to his experiences during the war, when he and his older brother, Bela, were transported to a forced labor camp where Bela’s talent as a pianist earned them special treatment. But at war’s end, Zoltan and Bela were separated. Bela’s fate is finally revealed as Ben and a dying Zoltan travel to Budapest for a final reckoning with their family history. Kertes dramatizes the indignities faced by a person with compromised health, from having one’s driver’s license revoked to running into unexpected difficulties during a colonoscopy. Zoltan’s hilarious and heartbreaking story is a satisfying blend of matters domestic and historical. Agent: Julie Stevenson, Massie & McQuilikin Literary Agents. (Mar.)
Reviewed on : 03/12/2020
Release date: 03/01/2020
Genre: Fiction
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