UNIVERSITY OF TORONTO LINKS
In this stunning debut novel, Anne Michaels joins the ranks of such gifted novelists as Michael Ondaatje, Margaret Atwood, and Jane Urquhart who began their writing careers as poets. Fugitive Pieces has caused an international stir as one leading foreign publisher after another snaps it up. To date, rights have been sold in the US (Knopf), the UK (Bloomsbury), as well as Gemany, Sweden, Brazil, Denmark and Estonia. Rights sales are pending in France, Greece, Italy, Holland, Norway, Spain and Japan...
Anne Michaels's startlingly beautiful novel tells the interlocking stories of two men from different generations whose lives have been transformed by war.
A young boy, Jakob Beer, is rescued from the mud of a buried Polish city during the Second World War and taken to an island in Greece by an unlikely saviour, the scientist and humanist Athos Roussos. There, in the seclusion and tenderness of Athos's house, they spend the last years of the Occupation in a precarious refuge made lavish with poetry and cartography, botany and art.
At war's end, Athos accepts an invitation to the University of Toronto's new geography department, headed by a former member of Captain Scott's Antarctic expedition.' Jakob learns the terrain of this city, built in the bowl of a prehistoric lake, just as he discovers the insistent nature of the layered past. His loss surfaces in all its complexity as does the haunting question of his sister's fate. It is here that Jakob will meet his first wife — the animated, exhilarating Alex — and begin his career as translator and poet.
In the novel's second part, Ben, a young professor and an expert in the drama of weather and biography, meets the now sixty-year-old Jakob and his ardent and glorious Michaela at the home of a mutual friend. The quiet elation Ben senses in the older man, and Ben's own connection to the wounding legacies of the war, kindle a fascination with Jakob and his writing, disturbing the safety of his carefully ordered world.
Lyrical, sensual, vivid, Fugitive Pieces is infused with a keen intelligence and a profound understanding of the human heart and the way historical events can shape us. Anne Michaels's characters are luminously created and alive with humanity, and we are drawn into their unforgettable lives with compassion and recognition. This is a first novel of astonishing achievement. Anne Michaels, previously acclaimed for two award-winning books of poetry as a writer of exceptional vision and originality, now reveals herself to be one of the most exciting fiction writers to appear in a long time.
"From time to time a novel appears that shocks with its
beauty, its integrity, its humanity. This story of the search for a
poet orphaned in childhood by the brutalities of the Second World
War is made so immediate that we must face those horrors once again.
A stunning achievement."
— Rosemary Sullivan, award-winning author of The Shadowmaker: The Life of Gwendolyn MacEwan and By Heart: Elizabeth Smart, A Life
"Fugitive Pieces is the kind of novel demanded
by E.M. Forster's injunction 'only connect'. Its incandescent gravity
trivialises most fictional gestures of our time. Each page is alert
with the grace and energy of a rare moral intelligence, expressing both
love and shame for humanity, and a delight in the Creation. Like all
great fiction, it seeks to fulfill the mind's yearning. There is not
an idle word in its telling."
—Sean Virgo, author of Selakhi
"In Fugitive Pieces two people reinvent worlds that will hold them,
gradually trusting their impulse to love, after their lives have been altered
by war. In language electric with life, Anne Michaels constructs a delicate
bridge between the present and the haunting past and leads her characters
to solid ground and a permanent place in our memories. This is an exceptional
work of art."
—John Steffler, author of The Afterlife of George Cartwright
"This extraordinarily beautiful book is a world. 'What does the
body make us believe? That we're never ourselves until we contain two souls.'
Perhaps it is the world. '"Athos, how big is the actual heart?" l once asked
him when I was still a child. He replied, "Imagine the size and heaviness of
a handful of earth."' To imagine this book, miraculously created by
Anne Michaels, imagine the same thing. Miraculously created because it mends
the hopeless and dances with loss. Trust and read it."
—John Berger, author of G, Ways of Seeing, and To the Wedding
Source: McClelland & Stewart
Anne Michaels's works copyright © to the author.