From the acclaimed author of Purge ("a stirring and humane work of art" [The New Republic]) comes a riveting, chillingly relevant new novel of occupation, resistance, and collaboration in Eastern Europe.
It's 1941. In Communist-ruled, war-ravaged Estonia, two men are fleeing from the Red Army--Roland, a fiercely principled freedom fighter, and his slippery cousin, Edgar. When the Germans arrive, Roland goes into hiding; Edgar abandons his unhappy wife, Juudit, and takes on a new identity as a loyal supporter of the Nazi regime. In 1963 Estonia is again under Communist control, independence even further out of reach behind the Iron Curtain. Edgar is now a Soviet apparatchik, desperate to hide the secrets of his past life and stay close to those in power. But his fate remains entangled with Roland's and with Juudit, who may hold the key to uncovering the truth.
Great acts of deception and heroism collide in this masterful story of surveillance, passion, and betrayal, as Sofi Oksanen brings to life the frailty--and the resilience--of humanity under the shadow of tyranny.
A number of years ago I decided to read some award winning books from other countries that had been translated to English. I quickly found out how important the translator was to the success of the book in English. I chose this book because of the problems going on in the world in the regions of Estonia, Ukraine, Poland and Finland. Sofi Oksanen is an award winning author and playwright in Finland. Her mother was born in Estonia and her father in Finland. She lives in Finland. She won the 2010 Nordic Council Literature Prize, the Finlandia award in 2008, Europe Book Prize in 2010 as well as the Swedish Academy Nordic Prize among the many other awards. Oksanen prior historical novel “Purge” was made into a movie in 2010; it also covered the Soviet occupation of Estonia.
The history of the region shows it briefly has independence then goes under the occupation of either Russia or Germany. This story covers the period of German occupation in the 1940’s to the Soviet occupation post WWII. The story takes place in the medieval capital of Tallinn. The base of the story is about Estonia’s terrible wartime history of mass human displacement, occupation and collaboration. Oksanen takes a wider narrative of deportation, refugees and battle, as well as homing in on the carnage. The title refers to the occupying German soldiers who snared and ate pigeons in Tallinn during the War. What the three protagonists have in common is the survival instinct. Oksanen writes from the viewpoint of each of the three people.
The book is well written and the translator, Lola Rogers, did an excellent job. The prose is fluent and vivid and the story is fast paced with lots of suspense and action. The author provides lots of historical information of the German and Soviet occupation and the daily life of the Estonian families in that timeframe. It is a great fast paced historical novel. I look forward to reading more books by this author. The narrator Enn Reitel does a great job narrating the book.
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