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Children of Our Age Paperback – 25 Oct 2017
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"A thrilling story of exploitation and deceit, Children of Our Age is a powerful look at the immigrant experience." -- World Literature Today "World Literature Today"
About the Author
A.M. Bakalar was born in Poland and lives in London. Her first novel Madame Mephisto was published in 2012 and was a reader nomination for the 2012 Guardian First Book Award. In 2015 her short story `Woman of Your Dreams' was broadcast on BBC Radio 4 and her writing has appeared in The Guardian and The International New York Times. She has also appeared as a guest on BBC Radio 3 Night Waves, Proms Plus Literary and BBC Radio 4 At Home Abroad. A.M. Bakalar's second novel Children of Our Age is published by Jantar in October 2017. The author's articles and reviews have appeared in The Guardian, The New York Times, The LA Review of Books, Boundless Magazine, Bookanista, among others.
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Here is a bleak portrayal of exploitation, brutality, treachery and criminality, centred squarely on Poles and by Poles. This is a gritty and intelligent thriller, but no conventional one. Filled with examples of criminality, it conforms to no common description of a crime novel. The narrative focuses unrelentingly on those who conceive their crimes, those who enforce them and those who suffer because of them. All are Polish. The British authorities, however sympathetic, are remarkable only by their lack of effectiveness.
What raises Children of our Age into a higher plane is how the author delineates the protagonists’ personalities, characters and family histories: the Kulesza brothers, brutal thugs on the one hand, but ultimately with redeeming human qualities; Mateusz and Angelika, a hardworking and religious family, grateful to the opportunities provided by the host country, but failing to thrive, drawn into a whirlpool of crime; above all the upwardly mobile Karol, an exponent of capitalism in all its worst manifestations, a man without conscience, utterly selfish, the evil of exploitation in human form. But more, Karel has asthma, a lover, a home life. He watches television and imagines having children. These traits of a common and shared humanity make his behaviour even more frightening.
The book’s title is shared with a Polish poem, which begins ‘We are children of our age/ it’s a political age’. This is a political novel in so many senses of the word. A breath of unexpected happiness is all that can be hoped for.
Children Of Our Age is set within a Polish community in London and has a strong sense of both countries, however the storyline itself is very much about human nature, gullibility and greed. It transcends any particular nationality as people across the globe are equally as nasty to each other as our protagonists here. There are several violently shocking moments so I wouldn't recommend this novel to particularly sensitive souls, but if you're ok with reading about brutal scenes, this is a thought-provoking and rewarding work.
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