From the very beginning - the birth of the narrator's father in the middle of a bridge party - the reader is plunged headlong into the world of Vienna, a novel crowded with voices, characters, tragedy and joy. The disintegration of history and indentity in the twentieth century is seen through the adventures of one family - half-Jewish Viennese, split apart by the Nazi invasion and sent out into the world. Dispensing with linear narrative, the story loops forwards and back to follow each member on their winding course. Their experiences encompass fraudsters, footballers, fools and fur coats as the narrative moves from Austria to London, from Canada to the battlefields of Burma. This is a landmark European novel of impressive reach and power whose readership will spread as widely as the family whose story it tells. It introduces in Eva Menasse an intimate chronicle of human experience and an unashamedly gleeful storyteller. Her cast of entrancing characters and unexpected events shows us imperceptibly the formation and disintegration of family history and identity.
Born 1970, Eva Menasse was a successful journalist on the Frankfurter Allgemeine, and now lives and works in Berlin as a freelance writer. This is her first novel. Anthea Bell