Title: Book of Fathers
Author: Miklós Vámos
Translator: Peter Sherwood
Publisher: Little Brown (UK and Canada) and Other Press (USA)
Year: 2006 (UK and Canada), 2009 (USA)
BOOK OF FATHERS IS A MONUMENTAL FAMILY SAGA, told as the chronicle of its male line over twelve successive generations. The twelve destinies are each touched by miracles of one kind and another, not least by the ability, transmitted from father to son, to experience, at moments of sickness or ecstasy, ' flashbacks' to events that determined the lives of their ancestors, past events they themselves did not experience, or conversely to see clairvoyantly into the future. The story begins in 1706, when the Czuczor printer family, having recently returned to Hungary from Germany, is forced to flee again by the violence which ensues after the Habsburg army suppresses the war of Hungarian independence led by Prince Ferenc Rákóczi. They hide out in a cave but are found and all killed, except the youngest boy, Kornél Csillag ( ' Star'). After this miraculous survival ( he is fed by a dog while living in the woods), Kornél grows up to become a talented and wealthy man, changing his name to Sternovszky. His son 'remembers' the grandfathers' s buried treasure and builds a tower on top of the blown up cave, whilst the next son, István, now called Stern, in order to marry his lover converts to Judaism and becomes a wine merchant. And so the lineage carries on, through the Hungary's Holocaust, its Stalinist terror of the Fifties, and eventually passing to America, where Henryk Csillag is born. He moves to Budapest, and it is his son who picks up the tale of the book of fathers in 1999, the year of the solar eclipse. Thus path of the lineage of sons is brought into conjunction with heavenly ordained cycle of the son. In chronicling this remarkable dynasty, Vámos weaves an extraordinary tapestry of tales, thrillers and tragicomedies which is shot through with strands of Hungary's history and rich culture, deploying an astonishing battery of literary styles appropriate to the period of each episode..