From Publishers Weekly
Whitbread First Novel Award–winner Lebrecht (for The Song of Names
) stiffly examines the psychological and moral dilemmas of living in a post-Holocaust world. When Paul Miller stumbles out of a work camp in an unnamed European country, he is saved by Alice, who hides him in the attic of her family inn. He eventually takes up residence in the town and marries Alice. Paul is continually torn between his love for his wife and son, and the guilt he feels living in a place where he endured so much torment. When he's elected mayor, Paul creates plans to modernize the idyllic mountain town and bury his past, but then the former prison commandant returns, and Paul is conflicted: take revenge or move on with his life? This novel's exploration of the shades of good and evil is hobbled, however, by characters who feel shaped by what they were created to represent as opposed to the humanity that might exist in them. The overly allegorical feel keeps the reader at too much of a distance and flattens what could be compelling imagery and characters into symbols. (July)
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“Ambitious. . . . A thought-provoking and complex look at one man’s Hamlet-like moral dilemma.”
“Norman Lebrecht is an original writer concerned with large moral questions, and admirably skeptical of accepted truths about human behavior and motivation. The Game of Opposites
pushes the reader beyond the simplistic safety zone of moral category (good, evil; moral, immoral) into complex, dramatically compelling terrain. Reading this novel is like hearing a familiar song in a startling new voice.”
—John Burnham Schwartz, author of The Commoner
and Reservation Road
“Original and poignant. . . . Lebrecht is a fluid, beautiful writer. . . . He tackles a large moral dilemma and creates a page-turner from it.”
—Baltimore Jewish Times
“A compelling and deeply human novel of ideas that examines the toll of World War II, fascism, and the Holocaust. It is a tale of simple survival and, more importantly, a meditation on good, evil, guilt, love, rage, and the panoply of emotions that roil the lives of survivors. Unforgettable.”
(starred review)From the Trade Paperback edition.