A scientist stealing across the Pyrenees into Spain, then smuggled into America . . .
A young woman quarantined on a ship wandering the Atlantic, her family stranded in Austria . . .
A girl playing on a riverbank as a solitary airplane appears on the horizon . . .
Lives already in motion, unsettled by war, and about to change beyond reckoning---their pasts blurred and their destinies at once defined and distorted by an inconceivable event. For that man was bound for the desert of Los Alamos, the woman unexpectedly en route to a refugee camp, the girl at Ground Zero and that plane the Enola Gay. In August of 1945, in a blinding flash, Hiroshima sees the dawning of the modern age.
With these three people, Dennis Bock transforms a familiar story---the atom bomb as a means to end worldwide slaughter---into something witnessed, as if for the first time, in all its beautiful and terrible power. Destroyer of Worlds. With Anton and Sophie and Emiko, with the complete arc of their histories and hopes, convictions and regrets, The Ash Garden is intricate yet far-reaching: from market streets in Japan to German universities, from New York tenements to, ultimately, a peaceful village in Ontario. Revealed here, as their fates triangulate, are the true costs and implications of a nightmare that has persisted for more than half a century.
In its reserves of passion and wisdom, in its grasp of pain and memory, in its balance of ambition and humanity, this first novel is an astonishing triumph.
Quill and Quire The Ash Garden is a controlled explosion of a story, hugely energetic, powerful, and complex...Bock's writing is both dense and immensely readable, as engaging when it focuses on life's minutiae as when it explores life's catastrophes. THE ASH GARDEN is difficult to forget and it rewards repeated readings in a way that few novels can.
Los Angeles Times Book Review
Dennis Bock's searching, ambitious first novel tells the intertwining stories of two people from opposite sides of the world who have spent their lives learning to live with the bomb [and] quickly hardens into a crystalline meditation on the defining event of the 20th century and its aftermath... Inventive [and] consistently challenging.
An intellectually demanding, yet emotionally affecting, first novel by short-story writer Bock (Olympia, 1999) tackles the large philosophical and ethical questions raised by Hiroshima.
Written in richly described flashbacks that slowly reveal the characters' almost surreal connections, this deceptively understated novel asks crucial questions about how to live and reconcile history in an atomic age.
From its achingly sad opening to its haunting conclusion, this riveting novel explores the moral ambiguities of war while illuminating a shameful moment in our collective history. Highly recommended.
Leon Rooke The Ash Garden can stand comparison with the best novels of our time. It is magnificent.
Dennis Bock creates his disturbing universe in the manner of the great moralists like Shusaku Endo or Athol Fugard. Grounding the two predominant man-made horrors of the last century in the lives of his three main characters, Bock's risk-taking imagination, his compassionate intelligence and superb writing, make The Ash Garden an evocative must-read experience.
Recent Reader Reviews
Rated of 5
by A.K. Extremely Boring I have to read this book for my English class and I have to say it's absolutely the worst book I have ever read! There is no action, no suspense, no drama, no irony, etc; I cannot find anything in this book that would make it interesting in the... Read More
Rated of 5
by Sasha Itterman
I give this book a 5. I am 16, and when I first read this book a year ago I thought it was amazing. I loved Dennis Bock's writing style and I think that he did a very good job of showing 3 different points of view on one subject. He didn't just... Read More
Rated of 5
by Balzac Fan
This book is nothing but an American bashing, cliche-ridden snooze-fest. The main character, Anton, is a typical science geek who is so smart he doesn't realize his own power...gulp...until it's too late. Oh where have I read this before? How about... Read More
Rated of 5
Idea was great, but execution long drawn-out and ultimately boring. Characters props for author's purpose, not real people.
Rated of 5
by Mohammad Salahuddin
This is the first time I have read Dennis Bock and his brilliant novel The Ash Garden. I am about to read it again because of its incredibly beautiful prose, style of writing, emergent and performative poetics, and philosophical depth. In this... Read More
A radiant novel that gets the rhythms and cadences of small-town life exactly right. An unforgettable story of a time when the world lost its innocence--and of a town that finds its redemption in an extraordinary love.
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