This is the gentle story of August Kleinman and the tribulations of his life. At times a commentary on present day Judaism it intersperses the present with various happenings in August's past. In the present day he is a retired millionaire ex-brewery owner who visits his son and daughter-in-law and grandson to be a kind grandfather. He escaped the rise of Nazism in Germany to settle in America with his mother. He was drafted in the final stages of the War and posted to the Far East. Here he has a life changing encounter with a Japanese soldier in a cave he is searching. The Japanese soldier is an artist who has painted a mural on the cave wall and lays down his arms to show it to August. But terrified August kills the soldier. He picks up various notebooks of the soldier's which contain a secret about the soldier's life written in Japanese. The story is about how August now wants to tell the translated secret to the soldier's son and so travels to Japan to settle the past. August has also taken on a job in a supermarket packing grocery bags, despite the fact that he is a millionaire, so that he can befriend Isabela a single mother from the Caribbean who he donates his pay cheques to. August is kind and gentle and the story also tells of the raising of his children, his love for his wife and how he cares for his wife as she is dying. Ethan Canin has a wonderful way of portraying August's life mixing terrifying ordeals with charming gentle prose. Ethan Canin is a master at writing about feelings and giving insights into people's lives through beautiful anecdotes. I thoroughly recommend Ethan Canin to you!
This report prepared by John Marcel