Fugitive Pieces

Publisher: Emblem Editions
Anne Michaels’ spellbinding début novel has quickly become one of the most beloved and talked-about books of the decade. As a young boy during the Second World War, Jakob Beer is rescued from the mud in Poland by an unlikely saviour, the scientist Athos Roussos, and he is taken to Greece, then, at war’s end, to Toronto. It is here that his loss gradually surfaces, as does the haunting question of his sister’s fate. Later in life, as a translator and a poet, and now with the glorious Michaela, Jakob meets Ben, a young professor whose own legacies of the war kindle within him a fascination with the older man and his writing. Fugitive Pieces is a work of rare vision that is at once lyrical, sensual, profound. With its vivid evocation of landscape and character, its unique excavation of memory and time, it is a wholly unforgettable novel that draws us into the lives of its characters with compassion and recognition.


My sister had long outgrown the hiding place. Bella was fifteen and even I admitted she was beautiful, with heavy brows and magnificent hair like black syrup, thick and luxurious, a muscle down her back. "A work of art," our mother said, brushing it for her while Bella sat in a chair. I was still small enough to...
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1. Why is the first section of the novel entitled "The Drowned City?" Why is the title repeated for a later section?

2. Jakob says that Athos's fascination with Antarctica "was to become our azimuth. It was to direct the course of our lives" [33]. Why do you think Antarctica obsessed Athos? How...

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“It stands alone, a stunning testament to the shaping bonds of memory and of history.…”
London Free Press

“Extraordinary.…Michaels has dug deep and come up with treasure.”

“This is a novel to lose yourself in; let the language pour over you, depositing its richness like waves lapping sand onto a beach.”
The Times (U.K.)

Fugitive Pieces again strongly reminds us why people write novels, why people should read them.…Here is the real thing, literature.”
–Richard Bachmann, A Different Drummer Books

“Deserves to become a classic.”
San Francisco Chronicle

“The most important book I have read for 40 years.”
–John Berger, The Observer (U.K.)

“Word by blessed word, it is a gorgeously written book aflame with the sub-zero cold of history and the passions of emotional comprehension.”
Boston Globe

“Exquisitely fabricated, the words so precise, that one stands before it as if it were the Bayeux Tapestry, afraid to touch a single thread lest the entire chronicle unravel.”
Globe and Mail

“From time to time a novel appears that shocks with its beauty, its integrity, its humanity.…A stunning achievement.”
–Rosemary Sullivan, author of The Red Shoes: Margaret Atwood Starting Out

“Each page is alert with the grace and energy of a rare moral intelligence, expressing both love and shame for humanity.…Like all great fiction, it seeks to fulfil the mind's yearning. There is not an idle word in its telling.”
–Seán Virgo

“The book is beautifully written…ike turbulent water disturbing what lies in the depths.”
Books in Canada

“Ms. Michaels underscores the continuity of human experience, suggesting that just as we can inherit the pain and guilt of earlier generations, so too can we inherit understanding and beauty and grace.…”
New York Times Book Review

“An extraordinary piece of work. Founded on great ambition and carried through fearlessly.”
The Guardian (U.K.)

“It is one of the most important novels to come out of this country.”
–Peter Oliva, Calgary Herald

“She has the ability to take a reader's breath away with an image or a turn of phrase.”
The Gazette (Montreal)

“Reading this profound, graceful book is an unforgettable emotional and esthetic experience.”
–Kingston Whig-Standard