Kingdom of Twilight
This lengthy novel begins in German-occupied Poland towards the end of the Second World War, with the German forces in retreat from the advancing Red Army. The story focuses on three main protagonists: two Jewish survivors of the War, Anna Stirnweiss and Lisa Kramer, and a former S.S. officer, Josef Ranzner, who returns to Germany from captivity in the Soviet Union and takes on a new identity. The author shows how the war reverberates throughout the lives of the characters and even crucially influences those who either were just children or were born after the end of hostilities. For all of them the war is never over. And even if they can find some form of peace or reconciliation, then the random nature of human life trumps all anyway.
There is no conventional linear narrative, and the author uses a variety of means to advance the meandering plot. It is literary, intelligent, reflective fiction that descends deep inside the protagonists’ consciousness, their motivations and most private thoughts—their various experiences of the horrors of the conflict and its aftermath are examined from unusual but intriguing perspectives. It demands the reader’s full alertness, but is rewarding and wholly engaging reading. The plot has a couple of blistering coincidences that keep the characters swirling together in the maelstrom of life, and there are a couple of historical errors. This is a deeply political novel, elements of which may irk the reader depending upon one’s own position and interpretation of events. Nevertheless, it is a superb account of humanity and what it means to be human.