Monday, September 25, 2006

THE COMMUNIST'S DAUGHTER by Dennis Bock (2006)

Bock's hugely anticipated second novel reveals layer by layer the life of Norman Bethune. A life that he guardedly offers up to the infant daughter he has yet to meet. In Spain, Bethune meets Kajsa, a formidable woman who works with an anarchist group to get prostitutes off the streets of Madrid and into respectable work raising orphans of the Spanish Civil war. Although pregnant by him, Kajsa never admits as much and Bethune finds out after the fact that she was allowed to deliver the baby, but then killed because she was suspected of having pro-Fascist connections.

In this series of letters, Bethune confides all to his imagined daughter. He tries to face the truths about himself and his past and tries to communicate to her the necessity of the Chinese struggles against oppression through the leadership of Mao and the communist revolution.

Rife with historical detail and gorgeous descriptive passages, Bock paints a convincing portrait of a flawed man.

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