Dennis Bock imagines the life of the
historical Norman Bethune, keeping the essence of
history intact but playing fast and lose with the details.
Details that some might
consider rather central - such as the fact that the
entire novel is addressed to Bethune's daughter who
he never met - but, historically speaking, never had.
In his few spare minutes from the Chinese battlefield hospitals, Bethune writes to his daughter about his childhood, his failed marriage, his time in Franco's Spain and the siege of Madrid, and the futility of war; vividly describing the horrors of the Spanish Civil War and the terrible sufferings of the Chinese peasants stuck between Mao's revolutionary army, the Nationalist army and the Japanese.
Dennis Bock was born on the north shore of
Lake Ontario, in the small town of Belleville.
His family moved to Oakville, just
west of Toronto, when he was six. He entered the
University of Western Ontario after high school, and
took one year off during that time to live in Spain.
In 1989, he returned to Madrid for 5 years after
graduating with an Honors BA in English and
Philosophy. In Madrid he began writing his
collection of connected stories, Olympia, and
worked on it while in residence at Yaddo, the Banff
Centre and the Fundacion Valparadiso, Spain.
It was published in 1998 and won several prizes in
the UK and Canada.
His first novel, The Ash Garden, was a #1 national bestseller. His second novel, The Communist's...
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