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Oskar Voxlauer is in flight from his past - from his bourgeois Austrian upbringing; from horrific memories of fighting on the Italian Front in 1917; and from the twenty years he has spent in the Ukraine watching his Bolshevik ideals crumble and the physical decline of the woman who taught him about love. In 1938, he finally returns to the small Austrian town of his birth where his mother is waiting to greet a son she hasn't seen since he was a boy. But, despite Oskar's attempts to live a reclusive existence as a gamekeeper up in the hills, he cannot escape the tensions that are threatening the tranquil town of Niessen. When Hitler marches into Austria and the Blackshirts come to the valley.

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Book Details

ISBN: 9780099286448
ISBN-10: 0099286440
Format: Paperback
(198mm x 130mm x 23mm)
Pages: 336
Imprint: Vintage
Publisher: Vintage Publishing
Publish Date: 3-Jan-2002
Country of Publication: United Kingdom

Reviews

UK Kirkus Review » His life shattered, a victim of world events, Oskar Voxlauer returns to the small Austrian town of his birth and his mother's house, 19 years after his departure. A deserter from the Austrian army in World War 1; a victim of the Bolshevik revolution into which he fled; embittered and soul-weary he seeks only a quiet place in which to reflect and perhaps recover. But it is 1938. The German conquest of Austria is well under way even in such out of the way towns, the effects of Nazism and the vindictive forces they unleash cannot be avoided. Wray's first novel is a vivid and atmospheric journey through an aspect of European 20th-century history rarely dramatized for the English speaking reader. The effects of the collapse of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and the rise of Linzs' most infamous son are convincingly portrayed. The malign influences remain distant, oblique. Without the hindsight of history the inhabitants of Neissen remain convinced that the dark forces rolling across Europe will pass them by, right up until the moment they arrive. Through the microcosm of place and time, Wray observes a situation that must have been reproduced over and over throughout Europe, giving us tragic insight into the immense damage political upheavals can cause to individual lives. (Kirkus UK)


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Author Biography - John Wray

John Wray was born in Washington, DC in 1971, the son of an Austrian mother and an American father, both scientists. His childhood was divided between the United States and Austria and this novel draws on his Austrian family history. In 1996 a selection of his poems won a prize from the Academy of American Poets and New York University. He is the author of three novels, The Right Hand of Sleep, Lowboy and Canaan's Tongue. He lives in New York.

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