May 21, 2014
Revolution Baby, by Joanna Gruda
Gruda is a Polish-born French author with a wicked sense of humor, and the uncanny ability to get inside the brain of a precocious young boy. Young Julek is born in Poland to staunchly Communist parents. As Russia cracks down on Polish communists, Julek's mother (who he thought was his aunt) and his aunt (who he thought was his mother - it's all very complicated) send him to live in France, where he quickly turns himself into a Frenchman (albeit, still a Communist). World War II disrupts his childhood and prompts a series of moves as he lives with different families to keep him safe. What could be a devastatingly emotional novel is instead a little gem of humor and good-will, an anthem to keeping a steady head on your shoulders, maintaining your good humor, and sticking to your beliefs even when you have control over little else. This is published by Europa Editions, which once again impresses me with the quality of foreign language books they chose to translate and publish in the US.