A child of World War II, Peter Debauer grew up with his mother and scant memories of his father, a victim of war. Now an adult, Peter embarks upon a search for the truth surrounding his mother's unwavering but shaky history and the possibility of finding his missing father after all these years. The search takes him across Europe, to the United States and back - finding witnesses, falling in and out of love, chasing fragments of a story and a person who may or may not exist. Within a maze of reinvented identities, Peter pieces together a portrait of a man who uses words as one might use a change of clothing, as he assumes a new guise in any given situation simply to stay alive.
The chase leads Peter to New York City, where he hopes to find the real person behind the disguises. Operating under an assumed identity of his own, Peter unravels the secrets surrounding Columbia University's celebrated political-science professor and best-selling author John de Baur, who is known for his incendiary philosophy and the charismatic rapport he has with his students. Terrifying mind games challenge Peter's ability to bring to light the truth surrounding his family history while still holding on to the love of a woman who promises a new life, free of lies and deceit.
Homecoming is a story of fathers and sons, men and women, war and peace. It reveals the humanity that survives the trauma of war and the ongoing possibility for redemption.
©2008 Michael Henry Heim; ©2006 Diogenes Verlag AG, Zurich; (P)2008 Random House, Inc.
“In his quest to discover his family's history, protagonist Peter Debauer weaves a brilliant Proustian memoir evoking the small details of smells, taste, colors, and sounds of his last summer visit with his grandparents. Paul Michael's subtle German accent and softened tones when speaking as a female lend the story credibility.” (AudiFile)
Fascinating how many novelists are working either The Iliad or The Odyssey into their works at the moment--not that it's new, but I'm conscious of Barry Unsworth's recent The Song of the Kings, Malouf's Ransom, both of which were clearly going to respond to Homer, but I wasn't expecting it in Schlink's recent novel. Has anyone come across any other recent Homer reworkings?
I loved this novel. It's not as tight as The Reader, but it's as politically powerful and ethically interesting. I do recommend it.
Probably you're looking at this page because you read or saw The Reader and enjoyed it, and now you're curious to see what else Bernhard Sclink has written and wondering whether he's a one-hit-wonder. My advice, if you liked the first book and are looking for a smart, thoughtful, intimate novel, go for it. I seriously enjoyed this book.
The novel is something of a detective story, a German boy trying to reconstruct the story of his father who died in WWII, and to understand the relationship between his mother and paternal grandparents. Like all of Schink's work, he manages to tell the tell the story of German 20th century history through the deeply personal experiences of one person and family. Maybe it's just me, but I find the quiet brooding of Schlink's characters deeply endearing and believable.
I will say that the ending gets a little weird and perhaps a little too allegorical. And I can understand those who say the novel is too long and gets boring at times, though I don't agree. Again, if you've liked any of Schlink's other work, then I highly recommend this one.
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