Siria's Reviews > The Book Of Fathers

The Book Of Fathers by Miklós Vámos
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's review
Jun 04, 2012

it was ok
bookshelves: 21st-century, historical-fiction, magical-realism, hungarian-fiction
Read from June 04 to 13, 2012

The Book of the Fathers is a sweeping tale of the male line of a single Hungarian family, the Csillags, across twelve generations and some three hundred years. Of mixed Jewish and Christian ancestry, the story of these twelve men—linked by the ability which most of them have to remember the experiences, skills and talents of their ancestors—becomes the story of Hungary in microcosm.

It's readable, but I didn't love this novel. Vámos ties himself in to a structure of 12 chapters, each one corresponding to a sign of the zodiac and each one linked to a particular main character. As a conceit this is fine, but once you bring in each main character's partner, other children, siblings, etc, this is a huge cast of characters to deal with and none of them really came to life on the page. There's no emotional spark here, and (shockingly, I know, given the title of this book) Vámos has forgotten Abigail Adams' famous exhortation to "remember the ladies." Women are given short shrift here, and that's not something I particularly care for in my fiction.

Nor did I feel that the prose was all that good—though, as this is a novel originally written in Hungarian, I can't necessarily lay the blame for that at Vámos' feet. Ultimately, for me, a good idea let down by poor execution.

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06/04/2012 page 10
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