Tuesday, December 2, 2014

The Invention of Exile by Vanessa Manko

Austin Voronkov is Russian. He has fled his violent homeland for the safety of Bridgeport, Connecticut, where he falls in love with Julia and works as an engineer. Austin stays connected with his homeland by joining Russian social clubs and lecture societies. In 1920 he and others are arrested at a club and deported under the assumption that they are communist sympathizers. Under duress, Austin inadvertently confessed to being ...an anarchist. He and Julia move to Paris, then other parts of Europe, virtually stateless as they begin their family and try to find a home.

Because of the anarchy charge, and deportation, no nation will accept him except Mexico, where they eventually settle. As he struggles to get his family back to the U.S., Austin is advised that sending his wife and children ahead of him will make it easier for him to seek U.S. citizenship. It should only take a month or so, he is told....but it takes much longer for him to be reunited with his beloved family.

The writing in this debut novel is excellent, and the author is a wonderful story teller. This is NOT a fast paced beach read that fits into that "light but good" category. It is what I call "a thinker." You will want to read this book slowly, appreciate the writing, identify with what Austin is going through. I had so many questions at the end that I want to re-read it, which means it will be great for book club discussions.

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