I have never heard of Harry Mulisch before I saw the title on Goodreads. I enjoy reading historical fictions the most and so I was hooked right away after reading the synopsis.
It was winter of 1945 in occupied Holland, the last dark days of World War II. Anton Steenwijk and his family live in one of the four rows of houses and while playing a game together, they suddenly heard gunshots. Peter, Anton’s brother reached for the window and saw a dead body lying in front of their neighbor’s house. To their surprise, their neighbors moved the dead body in front of their home and before they could do anything, the Germans retaliated fiercely. As it turns out, the dead man was Fake Ploeg, an infamous Nazi collaborator.
It is a great read about how the war has affected Anton since that winter night whose family died in the hands of the Germans. It is a great read about chance and fate and about memory and how memory shapes life. The interesting twist in the end made perfect sense.
“A man who has never been hungry may possess a more refined palate, but he has no idea what it means to eat.”
“Besides, whoever keeps the future in front of him and the past at his back is doing something else that is hard to imagine. For the image implies that events somehow already exist in the future, reach the present at a determined moment, and finally come to rest in the past. But nothing exists in the future; it is empty; one might die at any minute. Therefore such a person has his face turned toward the void, whereas it is the past behind him that is visible, stored in the memory.”
“Boundaries have to be continuously sealed off, but it’s a hopeless job, fore everything touches everything else in this world. A beginning never disappears, not even with the ending.”
Rating: 4/5 stars