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Fugitive Pieces
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Winner of the Orange Prize for Fiction and winner of the Guardian Fiction Award. Of all the Orange Prize winners since it began, this is the 4th bestselling book.Reissued ahead of Anne Michaels' astonishing new novel, The Winter Vault With an introduction by John Berger

Three collections of poems by novelist Michaels (Fugitive Pieces) have been brought together for their first U.S. publication: The Weight of Oranges, Miner's Pond and Skin Divers. As the sensuousness of these titles suggests, Michaels goes for a portentous lyric well-stocked with physical details, action verbs, simile and metaphor--"we are black smudges on the frozen river"; "We were sent for a reason,/ like curtains blown in from an open window/ to knock over a cup." When she writes from a perspective one assumes to be her own ("Miner's Pond"; "Words for the Body"), Michaels's lush and elliptical narratives are winning. Increasingly, her poems take historical figures and their lovers as subjects and speakers, echoing her work in historical fiction, and including Alfred Doblin, Johannes Kepler, Karen Blixen, Amedeo Modigliani, Anna Akhmatova and Marie Curie. These poems don't always carry the freight of their subjects' fame lightly, though, and by the book's second half the metaphors begin to misfire as bad homages, as in the Akhmatovesque "Birds plunge their cries like needles/ into the thick arm of afternoon." The worst merely recap generic moments of pathos in a tone more borrowed from biography than reanimated by sympathy. Fans of fellow Canadian and Knopf novelist-poet Michael Ondaatje may find much to admire here though, and the better poems should find a significant audience. (Jan.) Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.

About the Author

Anne Michaels' most recent book, Poems, published in 2000, includes three collections of poetry: The Weight of Oranges, which won the Commonwealth Prize for the Americas; Miner's Pond, which won the Canadian Authors Association Award and was shortlisted for the Governor General's Award and the Trillium Award; and Skin Divers. Fugitive Pieces was originally published by Bloomsbury in 1997 to worldwide critical acclaim. It won the Orange Prize and the Trillium Award among others, and was shortlisted for the Giller Prize and the Canadian Booksellers Association Author of the Year Award. It was also made into a major motion picture. Anne Michaels has also composed music for the theatre. Born in 1958, Anne Michaels lives in Toronto.

Reviews

Three collections of poems by novelist Michaels (Fugitive Pieces) have been brought together for their first U.S. publication: The Weight of Oranges, Miner's Pond and Skin Divers. As the sensuousness of these titles suggests, Michaels goes for a portentous lyric well-stocked with physical details, action verbs, simile and metaphor--"we are black smudges on the frozen river"; "We were sent for a reason,/ like curtains blown in from an open window/ to knock over a cup." When she writes from a perspective one assumes to be her own ("Miner's Pond"; "Words for the Body"), Michaels's lush and elliptical narratives are winning. Increasingly, her poems take historical figures and their lovers as subjects and speakers, echoing her work in historical fiction, and including Alfred Doblin, Johannes Kepler, Karen Blixen, Amedeo Modigliani, Anna Akhmatova and Marie Curie. These poems don't always carry the freight of their subjects' fame lightly, though, and by the book's second half the metaphors begin to misfire as bad homages, as in the Akhmatovesque "Birds plunge their cries like needles/ into the thick arm of afternoon." The worst merely recap generic moments of pathos in a tone more borrowed from biography than reanimated by sympathy. Fans of fellow Canadian and Knopf novelist-poet Michael Ondaatje may find much to admire here though, and the better poems should find a significant audience. (Jan.) Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.

'Monumental ... Fugitive Pieces is the most important book I have read for forty years' John Berger, Observer 'This is a novel to lose yourself in; let the language pour over you, depositing its richness like waves lapping sand onto a beach. Michaels is a novelist of unusual and compelling power' Erica Wagner, The Times 'Essential reading, both for its exceptional literary craft and for its exemplary and inspiring humanity' Spectator 'All except a handful of contemporary novels are dwarfed by its reach, its compassion, its wisdom ... A book to read many times' Geoff Dyer, Independent

YA‘A survivor of his family's annihilation by the Nazis, young Jakob Beer hides in a Polish forest alone and traumatized, longing for his parents and sister Bella. He stumbles upon a Greek scientist, Athos Roussos, and is smuggled to the Greek island of Zakynthos. The novel, written like a memoir, weaves together Jakob's memories of his family and his life with Athos into a tapestry of pain and eventual healing. Reminiscent of Elie Wiesel's Night (Bantam, 1982), Michaels's language creates haunting images of sorrow, pain, loss, and self-discovery. Jakob becomes a poet and survives both Athos's death and an ill-conceived marriage before he finds love and peace. Ben, a professor who is the child of deeply wounded Holocaust survivors, meets Beer before his death and, through the man's poetry and notes, confronts his own family horrors and finds reconciliation. The memoirs flow back and forth freely and may be difficult for some YAs to follow. However, this is a stunning first novel that attests to the strength of the human spirit.‘Carol DeAngelo, formerly at Fairfax County Public Library, VA

Who says first novelists have it tough? Michaels's debut was a No. 1 best seller in her native Canada, where it has just been shortlisted for the prestigious Giller Prize. Protagonist Jakob Beer, who as a child was smuggled out of World War II Poland, looks back on life as a perennial "fugitive."

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