Longlisted, Scotiabank Giller Prize
Violence is the domain of both the rich and poor. Or so it seems in early 20th-century Ukraine during the tumult of the Russian Revolution.
As anarchists, Bolsheviks, and the White Army all come and go, each claiming freedom and justice, David Bergen embeds his readers into the lives of characters connected through love, family, and loyalty. Lehn, a bookseller south of Kiev, deserts the army and writes poetry to his love back home; Sablin, an adopted Mennonite-Ukrainian stableboy, runs with the anarchists only to discover that love and the planting of crops is preferable to killing; Inna, a beautiful young peasant, tries to stop a Mennonite landowner from stealing her child. In a world of violence, Sablin, Lehn, and Inna learn to love and hate and love again, hoping, against all odds, that one can turn away from the dead.
In this beautifully crafted novel, David Bergen takes us to a place where chaos reigns, where answers come from everywhere and nowhere, and where both the beauty and horror of humanity are on full display.