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Monday, January 18, 2010

The Book of Fathers by Miklós Vámos

The Book of Fathers
Publisher: Other Press
ISBN: 1590513398
Pages: 480 pgs
Genre: Fiction
Challenges-Read’n’Review Challenge, 100+ Reading Challenge

Publisher’s Description:

When in 1705 Kornell Csillag's grandfather returns destitute to his native Hungary from exile, he happens across a gold fob-watch gleaming in the mud. The shipwrecked fortunes of the Csillag family suddenly take a new and marvelous turn. The golden watch brings an unexpected gift to the future generations of firstborn sons: clairvoyance. Passed down from father to son, this gift offers the ability to look into the future or back into history–for some it is considered a blessing, for others a curse. No matter the outcome, each generation records its astonishing, vivid, and revelatory visions into a battered journal that becomes known as The Book of Fathers. For three hundred years the Csillag family line meanders unbroken across Hungary's rivers and vineyards, through a land overrun by wolves and bandits, scarred by plague and massacre, and brutalized by despots. Impetuous, tenderhearted, and shrewd, the Csillags give birth to scholars and gamblers, artists and entrepreneurs. 

Led astray by unruly passions, they marry frigid French noblewomen and thieving alehouse whores. They change their name and their religion, and change them back. They wander from home but always return, and through it all The Book of Fathers bears witness to holocaust and wedding feast alike.

My Review:

I was lucky enough to start 2010 with an awesome book that challenged me and kept me riveted the whole time. The Book of Fathers was an awesome start to my reading year.

The Book of Fathers tells the continuing story of one family. Each chapter is like a flash in time telling a different story about the first born male of each generation of a Hungarian family. This might get a bit confusing because there is no consistent narrator but, I think, if you look at it like a book of short stories, it really works well. I sometimes forgot that I was reading a novel at times. I am not quite sure if that is a good thing but I am leaning towards a yes.

I did find that it did become a bit difficult to keep track of everything. Each individual character and story is so vibrant and interesting that despite the pervasive confusion, I was deeply embroiled in the novel. Some readers might be a bit put off by the format and the style but I think it is worth a try. I was also pleased that nothing was lost in translation as happens with some translated novels.

The Book of Fathers was definitely something different and it was a great start to my reading year. I want to pick it up again someday because it seems like I would be able to get something different out of it with every read.

*A copy of this book was provided to me by the publisher for review. My opinion is my own and has not been influenced in any way and any monies made from associate or affiliate accounts are recycled back into the blog.



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