An intellectually demanding, yet emotionally affecting, first novel by short-story writer Bock that tackles the large philosophical and ethical questions raised by Hiroshima.
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.
We had very little in the days when the war was still far away, in the remote place I imagined all wars lived when I was a girl. When it finally came to our city in August 1945 it consumed what little we had left, and years later, when there was nothing left at all, I was forced to journey to America to begin my surgeries. Of course, when I was a child it had seemed to me that what we'd had in those early days was sufficient. All but the barest necessities had been taken from us, but we didn't know any better. I often thought of the war as some great famished beast that ate away at the heart of my people. But my family was no different from any other family in the Asaminami district, the area of the city we lived in, and my brother and I never missed what we'd never had. I do not know if our parents and grandfather felt the same way.
In what might seem a rare gift in the legacy of my family's suffering, my mother and father were lucky enough to die at ...
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No Man's Land
by Simon Tolkien
Inspired by the experiences of his grandfather, J. R. R. Tolkien, during World War I.
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