With a fine balance between poetic tenderness and an unflinching account of the brutal realities of the day, Szczypiorski shows us the intertwining lives of the few Poles, Jews, and Germans who risk everything to save her.
Dense, lyrical and deeply unsettling... Szczypiorski creates in these pages a kaleidoscopic portrait of life in Nazi-occupied Warsaw... By focusing on a couple of weeks in the lives of a dozen Warsaw residents Szczypiorski is able to delineate the consequences of World War II on a group of ordinary citizens, and the place of that war within the arc of Polish history... As Szczypiorski sees it, good and evil, heroism and cowardice, are not the stuff of high tragedy; they are simply elements of daily life, occasionally thrown into relief by events like war and persecution. Thanks to the trickery of luck and grace, innocence may be redeemed by a mercenary act, as easily as it may be saved through genuine charity and compassion; injustice may result from carelessness and bad timing, as easily as it may proceed from bigotry and hatred.
Szczypiorski recounts the eternal calvary of a Poland drunk with independence, but always enslaved and always crushed, in a sparse language as classical as that of Thomas Mann. Superb.
The prose is stunning, thanks to a masterful translation by Klara Glowczewska, and the characters are so fully fleshed that they seem to step off the page in order to communicate with the reader.
What happens to the beautiful Mrs. Seidenman is wholly believable, and carries the full impact of historic truth.
A rare find... An exceptional storyteller, Szczypiorski passionately re-creates the tumultuous war years for us, also providing insight into the current resurgence of Polish nationalism and Solidarity.
The authorial voice here - now gentle, now sardonic, but always piercingly omniscient - takes unique advantage of its eighties' perspective to create an unforgettable group portrait.
Brilliantly choreographed . . . blunt and hauntingly moving.
A masterpiece of modern prose which grips the reader with the power of a high-class thriller.
There are accidental heroes and inadvertent villains, surprising and unexpected switches that lend the book its extraordinary originality.
Complex and convincing.
A masterful accomplishment, written with the kind of suspense that makes it impossible to put down.