By Sandor Marai
Vintage Books USA, Paperback, 9780375707414, 278pp.
Publication Date: March 11, 2008
It is the summer of 1918, and four boys approaching graduation are living in a ghost town bereft of fathers, uncles, and older brothers, who are off fighting at the front. The boys know they will very soon be sent to join their elders, and in their final weeks of freedom they begin acting out their frustrations and fears in a series of subversive games and petty thefts. But when they attract the attention of a stranger in town an actor with a traveling theater company their games, and their lives, begin to move in a direction they could not have predicted and cannot control, and one that reveals them to be strangers to one another. Resisting and defying adulthood, they find themselves still subject to its baffling power even in their attempted rebellion.
“A darkly comic, war-ravaged coming-of-age tale that displays much of the genius visible in his later works, but [is] also funnier and more extravagantly imaginative.” —The New Yorker
“The emotional power of the story is that of a simple, straightforward narrative . . . followed by stunning revelation.” —The Boston Globe
“A morbidly comic novel . . . marked by passages of bleak elegiac grandeur.” —The New York Sun