Kahn & Engelmann

Hans Eich­n­er; Jean M. Snook, trans.
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By – August 25, 2011
The sto­ry begins with Sidonie, grand­moth­er of the nar­ra­tor, Peter Edel­mann. Sidonie was a strong, beau­ti­ful young woman, the daugh­ter of pros­per­ous small­town Hun­gar­i­an Jews. One day Sidonie goes to get her shoes repaired. 
The Jew­ish shoe­mak­er, a poor man from a poor fam­i­ly, touch­es her ankle in a way that changes her life. She feels the strength of attrac­tion for the first time, and tells her par­ents, with­out think­ing twice, that she will mar­ry him. Sidonie and Joseph quick­ly have three chil­dren. For the sake of the chil­dren they walk, with a hand­built cart, a don­key, three young babies and all their belong­ings, to Vien­na, where life will be bet­ter, they are sure. In 1938, the Anschluss, or annex­a­tion of Aus­tria by Ger­many, occurs. In so many ways, the cul­tured Vien­nese life of music, paint­ing, and pos­si­bil­i­ties on the Danube evap­o­rates, as the Nazis rise to pow­er. This is a nov­el of his­to­ry, of love, death, and exten­sive trav­el. The nar­ra­tor moves around the world look­ing for a place to belong: Eng­land, Cana­da, and final­ly, Israel. This sweep­ing nov­el describes in a nar­ra­tive that is both per­son­al and broad, one of the paths Jews in the 20th cen­tu­ry took, through towns and coun­tries, try­ing hard to cre­ate a life.
Esther Cohen is a poet, nov­el­ist, teacher, and cul­tur­al activist. Her most recent poet­ry book is God is a Tree (Plea­sure Boat).

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