After the Velvet Revolution of 1989, Niqi Thomas, a young Czech Australian woman, returns with her father to Prague, to visit her ancestral city and to discover her grandfather, who was always 'present' in the family, but whom she had never met -- Karel Goliath-Gorovsky, the Czech Solzhenitsyn. For Niqi, it became a journey of self-discovery, through discovery of her grandfather. A rebel from birth, Czech lawyer, Karel Goliath-Gorovsky, was imprisoned in a Soviet gulag north of the Arctic Circle, because of his relentless political idealism. His potent black humour enabled him to survive those seventeen darkest years of his political life, which spanned from the brutal excesses of Stalin to the liberating hope of Dubcek. His son, abandoned by his father at the age of one, developed his own black humour to survive Mischling status under the Nazi occupation, the Stalinist regime in his homeland, Czechoslovakia, and flight to Australia -- his new land of opportunity where some people crossed the street when they saw a 'wog' approaching.
This family narrative includes a subversive retake on the biblical Goliath, who appears several times through the book, connecting Goliath-Gorovsky with the biblical character, who paradoxically, was killed by his Hebrew ancestors. This is a literary treatment of national and personal history, which explores the effect of war and displacement upon the exiled individuals and their families. Throughout the book, the continually reinforced image is of the individual standing against the juggernaut of dictatorship and bureaucracy, and resolutely refusing to fear.