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3.96 of 5 stars 3.96  ·  rating details  ·  8,319 ratings  ·  700 reviews
Palkitun runoilijan heleä-ääninen esikoisromaani on kaunis ja herkkä kertomus kahdesta miehestä, joiden elämän sota muuttaa.

Toisen maailmansodan aikana tutkija Athos Roussos pelastaa nuoren Jakob Beerin tuhotusta Puolasta ja vie tämän mukanaan Kreikan saaristoon. Siellä, Athoksen talossa, kaksikko viettää miehityksen loppuvuodet runouden, taiteen, karttojen ja kasvitieteen...more
Paperback, 310 pages
Published 2010 by WSOY (first published May 11th 1996)
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it seems to be something of a goodreads sin to give this book any fewer than four stars. and were i rating it solely on the beauty of its language, it would be an easy five-star book. but as a novel, it missed the mark for me somewhat, so it is really just a high-three for me.

i know - blasphemer!

the poetry-as-novel thing can be a truly wonderful beast, or it can leave the reader wanting more - more story, more impact, more cohesion. reading this book made me long to re-read Justine, which is an...more
K.D. Absolutely
Feb 06, 2011 K.D. Absolutely rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to K.D. by: 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die (2006-2010)
Shelves: 1001-core, saddest
Together, my 75-y/o mother and her 82-y/o sister, spent a whole month (last month) vacation here in the Philippines mostly in my house. For few days, they went to our province, the town they were born. When they came back, my mother showed me a bunch of old photographs. Included in those were the pictures of her parents. My grandparents.

It was amazing how they could still tell the stories behind each of the photograph as if they were only taken a few years ago. When we came to those of her own...more
Jeanette  "Astute Crabbist"
Literary ambrosia. This gets at least six stars from me.

I stubbornly avoided this book for a long time because the promotional blurb just didn't make it sound appealing to me. I finally gave it a try so I could stop wondering why it won half a dozen awards and shows up on "must read" lists everywhere I look. I'm so glad I did! The blurb doesn't even begin to tell you about the book as you'll experience it while reading.

If you're the left-brain dominant sort who needs everything spelled out in...more
Finally, I have finished this one. I loved the cover and a quick flick through excited me because the writing was poetic and lyrical and the prologue about lost manuscripts from people who wrote about the holocaust was tantalising.
The story is about a young Jewish boy, Jacob Beer who, while hiding, witnesses the slaughter of his parents and the abduction of his sister, presumably for the death camps, by the Nazi police in Poland. He survives living in the marshland outside the town until he is r...more
Smug, self-serving twaddle.

Yes, Michaels has a way with metaphor. But metaphor also gets away from her. This book is relentless in its "poetic manner"--if I want that sort of thing I'll read Ondaatje (and frankly I'm amazed his lawyers didn't sue for plagiarism...). Michaels, primarily, I'm told, a poet, has no sense of narrative pacing (witness the late intrusion of another story) and no sense of narrative voice (witness the fact that this second voice sounds exactly like the first--and neither...more
Oct 14, 2010 Maia rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: obsessive lit prizes followers
There are few words to describe how annoying I found this book. I just don't seem to be either an Orange Prize reader or a good target audience for novels penned by authors who are, as Michaels is described, 'primarily poets.' I love poetry--it was actually my first love, and novels came later. I've also loved quite a few great novels written by first-class poets. However, this isn't a rule of thumb and is actually very often simply an exception. Poetry and narrative writing are just not the sam...more
There are so many books on the holocaust that it has almost dulled the magnitude of the atrocity. But this novel, written by Canadian poet, Ann Michaels, is phenomenal. Her lyrical sentence structure will capture you right away and the story line is profound. A young Jewish boy is the only one to escape a raid by the Gestapo on the family because he has hidden in a secret place in the pantry. After hiding in the woods (this is Poland) for many days, he finds and is found by a Greek archaeologist...more
Joselito Honestly and Brilliantly
One day you wake up and find all the pieces of your chess set gone. They have fled and implanted themselves in a board of another game. It can't be, you protest, it makes no sense. Chess pieces belong to the chess board. Their meaning is dictated by its board of sixty-four squares. Outside of it they are but an aberration. These rooks, knights, bishops, pawns, kings and queens had always been with this sixty-four square board for at least two thousand years.

The wayward chess pieces, however, be...more
"Some stones are so heavy only silence helps you carry them"

I promise promise promise that I'm not going to fall into the habit of simply posting quotations and extracts in my reviews. However, the writing of Anne Michaels in this, her debut (and award-winning) novel is so stunningly poetic, so all-consuming, so remarkable, that I can't help but echo some voices here:

"At night, a few lights marked port and starboard of these gargantuan industrial forms, and I filled them with loneliness. I liste...more
I've never had a complaint like this about a book I've read: the language was too beautiful. I would come across a line like: "I ran until the first light wrung the last greyness out of the stars, dripping dirty light between the trees" and stop and marvel over it, and in doing so, I would lose track of what was going on. Each sentence is crafted like that. Each sentence is like a part of a poem, which makes sense, because Anne Michaels is a poet. But sometimes I just wanted the story to go on....more
I'm torn with this book. On the one hand the prose is so dense and rich, poetic and downright stunning. On the other hand the story left me a little hollow. Reading this I had the perpetual feeling that I was trying to see through a foggy window, barely seeing. And yet, there was so much feeling.

Characters appear as if in a dream and dissolve away. Frustrating? Yes. But isn't that how life is? People leave. People die. And we feel the loss forever, as the characters in this book do.

I'm not sur...more
May 29, 2011 Julie rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Julie by: Jeanette, Charisse
“I did not witness the most important events of my life. My deepest story must be told by a blind man, a prisoner of sound. From behind a wall, from underground. From the corner of a small house on a small island that juts like a bone from the skin of sea.”

Early in her brooding, shadowy, aching novel, Anne Michaels sets out the central conflict of her principal character, Jakob Beer. Jakob’s family is slaughtered one winter night in 1940; the seven-year-old boy hides in a hollow in the wall, the...more
"Lo único que se puede hacer por los muertos es cantarles. El himno, el miroloy, el kaddish. En los guetos, quando si moría un niño, la madre le cantaba una nana. Porque no tenía otra cosa que ofrecer de su ser, de su cuerpo. Se la inventaba, una canción de consuelo, mencionando todos los juguetes preferidos del niño. Y la gente las oía y se las pasaban los unos a los otros y, al pasar de las generaciones, esa cancioncilla es lo único que queda que pueda decirnos algo de ese niño..."
(página 255)
This is such an unusual book that I hardly know how to rate it. It is a disturbing theme but beautifully written. It is like reading a poem about a horrible event. It is about a young Jewish boy hidden away whose family are all killed as the Nazis pass through his village in Poland. He wanders into a place where a Greek geologist is studying a submerged city hundreds of years old. The man recognizes the plight of the child and carries him hidden into Greece. There they live together with the chi...more
I seldom enjoy – enjoy is probably the wrong word – I seldom have much interest in Holocaust related fiction (exception: The Book Thief). It might sound terrible to say, but I usually find novels set during the Holocaust somewhat melodramatic or seemingly emotionally manipulative in a way that sets me at odds with the author. I also tend to become easily disenchanted with extremely poetic or lyrical writing, at least from contemporary authors. Neither was the case with Fugitive Pieces. I found...more
This is a very different kind of novel. It is almost at times a stream of consciousness where the character's thoughts and memories simply flow out. This makes for some exceptional writing but not a particularly easy or gripping read.

We start off with our main character, Jakob Beer, as a young Jewish boy. Jakob's town is attacked and he is rescued by a Greek man who takes him back to a Greek island. Athos raised Jakob and protects him through the war. The relationship between Jakob and Athos is...more
I want to put this book in a bowl, pour syrup over it, and eat it with a spoon.

It made me cry. Actually, it made me ugly-cry. What more is there to say?
This is an exquisite book, stunning in its haunting and lyrical prose ands its strong, many-layered plot. It is original, inventive, informed in its many references to science (particularly geology), history, music (she knows her music) and literature, especially Greek literature. I speak in superlatives because that's how beautiful it is.

(See Joselito's review).

It is a Holocaust novel,and while I usually recoil from Holocaust novels because it takes me days to shake off my horror at the genoc...more
Aug 29, 2008 Andrew rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Those who really like poetry, images, metaphors, etc
Recommended to Andrew by: family member
I had very high expectations for “Fugitive Pieces”, probably higher than I should have had, after it was highly recommended to me by my mother recently. I should have known better, since our tastes in books are not always the same. While I thought “Fugitive Pieces” was a nice book, I certainly did not find it to be exceptional.

“Fugitive Pieces” tries too hard to be beautiful. Trying to make her prose feel like poetry, Michaels' story is overly lyrical and tedious. Hundreds of sentences without...more
Cindie Harp
Perhaps my favorite book of all time, for SURE in my lifetime top 5. The person who recommended it had initially bought it because she liked the cover. Who knows why things attract us, or why people do (and then don't) for that matter. I should go back and copy some of the many many great lines from it that I love and put it into the quotes section of this website, but that seems like a lot of work to me right now. If you like a book that uses words as a paintbrush, read this book. If you like a...more
Jennifer (aka EM)
The most beautifully written book I've read in a very long time. And describing such horror - which makes the language used all the more powerful. It really is a very long prose poem, I think. It functions as a poem, in terms of the vignettes and how they resonate with each other. So many layers of meaning, like the limestone. The strength of the central metaphor - memory, time and experience as geological - holds it all together, more than plot/character.

More to say later. I want to do a revie...more
Jassem (James) Almulla
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
I tried really hard to like this book, because my sister ranks it among her favourites and she gave a copy to me for Christmas. Undoubtedly, the book contains some beautiful poetry, but there's so much of it that the plot gets bogged down to the point of nonexistence.

I can't for the life of me tell you what happened in this book, aside from the following plot details: Jakob gets rescued from the Nazis by a benevolent Greek archaeologist, then moves to Canada with him, where he proceeds to have t...more
" I know why we bury our dead and mark the place with stone, the heaviest, most permanent thing we can think of because the dead are everywhere by the ground."

There was no gentle slip into this story of a holocaust survivor, a young boy saved by a gentle archeologist. From the first page it was a brutal story, hard to read but impossible to put down.

I found Jakob's idea of ghosts to be quite interesting: "When I woke, my anguish was specific: the possibility that it was as painful for them to...more
Jan 31, 2011 Amy rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Amy by: Signe
"You got Fugitive Pieces! Oh! My favorite book ever. I've got to read you the opening is better than A Tale of Two Cities. Seriously. Are you ready? 'Time is a blind guide.' Isn't that just great?"
And so...with those enthusiastic words, I was ushered into the world of Anne Michaels, and more specifically, Fugitive Pieces. I wish I could say it was a life changing experience...that I'm going to go devote my life to poetry or becoming a classical pianist or geologist or something but,...more
"The burst door. Wood ripped from hinges, cracking like ice under the shouts. Noises never heard before, torn from my father’s mouth. Then silence. My mother had been sewing a button on my shirt. She kept her buttons in a chipped saucer. I heard the rim of the saucer in circles on the floor. I heard the spray of buttons, little white teeth.”

Jakob Beer is seven when soldiers break into his home, killing his family while he hides behind a wall. Disoriented and afraid, he travels the forests of Pol...more
Breathtaking; made me ache at times (thanks so much for the rec, KO).
A very hushed book, muted, which is a mercy for an account of a Holocaust survivor -- there's space to mourn and to come alive -- space for sensuousness and such tender sexual relationships. I love how Michaels writes the body, the human body and the body of the earth (the prose is layered with lyrical geology and meteorology, full of beautiful metaphors for time & memory).
The first part is in Jakob Beer's voice, the survi...more

The story opens with a heart wrenching scene told through the eyes of a young boy he witnesses the death of his parents. The descriptive prose used by Michaels leaves you with a sense that you have witnessed the tragedy first hand.

I was really spell bound in the beginning of the book, but as the boy grows to man I had difficulty with how his life suddenly becomes resolved by finding a woman that fills the void he feels so deeply. I guess I'm being a bit of a negative Nelly, but I think you can...more
Not an easy read but very satisfying. It is sad how the damage done to people haunts them for the rest of their lives and onto the next generation.
Fugitive Pieces, the debut novel of acclaimed Canadian poet Anne Michaels, is a remarkable book, quite overwhelming to read but stunning in its impact.

First published in 1996, Fugitive Pieces won the Books in Canada First Novel Award, the 1997 Orange Prize for Fiction and the Guardian Fiction Prize. It was shortlisted for the Giller Award too (the year that Margaret Atwood’s Alias Grace won it). And it’s listed in 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die (2006 edition).

In exquisite lyrical prose...more
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what say you? 2 53 Jan 09, 2009 05:33AM  
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From Canadian Poetry Online:

Anne Michaels was born in Toronto, Canada, in 1958. She is the author of one novel Fugitive Pieces, which explores the possibility of love and faith alter the Holocaust, with language marked by power, elegance, and integrity. Ms. Michaels, who has also composed musical scores for the theater, has said "when you put a tremendous amount of love into your work, as in any r...more
More about Anne Michaels...
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“Love makes you see a place differently, just as you hold differently an object that belongs to someone you love. If you know one landscape well, you will look at all other landscapes differently. And if you learn to love one place, sometimes you can also learn to love another.” 119 likes
“There's a moment when love makes you believe in death for the first time. You recognize the one whose loss, even contemplated, you'll carry forever, like a sleeping child. All grief, anyone's the weight of a sleeping child.” 54 likes
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