March 1944: War's darkest period descends upon Hungary's Jews. By the time it ends, over half a million Jews will have been murdered. Gratitude tells the story of that period, through a group of people whom terrible circumstance has thrown together, and of lives and loves saved and lost.
A brilliant exploration with deep humanity of the complexities of the human psyche in its darkest hour.
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JOSEPH KERTES was born in Hungary but escaped with his family to Canada after the revolution of 1956. He studied English at York University and the University of Toronto, where he was encouraged in his writing by Irving Layton and Marshall McLuhan. His first novel, Winter Tulips , won the Stephen Leacock Award for Humour. His third novel, Gratitude , won a Canadian Jewish Book Award and the U.S. National Jewish Book Award for Fiction. Kertes founded Humber College’s distinguished creative writing and comedy programs. He is currently Humber’s dean of creative and performing arts.
From Publishers Weekly:
Kertes digs into the experiences of a family of wealthy Hungarian Jews in the darkest moments of WWII in his proficient latest. An ensemble piece, the novel's main character is Paul Beck, a lawyer stripped of his profession who takes great risks to protect his family, including posing as a Swedish diplomat to stop a train taking his family to a concentration camp. His politician father is executed, his dentist brother hides for several months in his assistant's home, and his sister mourns the disappearance of her lover. Eventually, the tide begins to turn as the Russians arrive, though the Russian presence presents a new set of problems. Kertes leavens the grim material with a few lighter scenes of the Becks trying to make the most of a horrible situation, which goes a long way to making them an endearing and memorable group, while the author's straightforward style moves the story along at a healthy clip. (Oct.)
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