Fugitive Pieces

Fugitive Pieces

Book - 1997
Average Rating:
Rate this:
Random House, Inc.
This first novel from an award-winning poet -- a #1 best-seller in Canada -- is certain to propel her into the front ranks of our very best practitioners of contemporary fiction.

It is a story of World War II as remembered and imagined by one of its survivors: a poet named Jakob Beer, traumatically orphaned as a young child and smuggled out of Poland, first to a Greek island (where he will return as an adult), and later to Toronto.  It is the story of how, over his lifetime, Jakob learns the power of language -- to destroy, to omit, to obliterate, but also to restore and to conjure, witness and tell -- as he comes to understand and experience what was lost to him and of what is possible for him to regain.

Profoundly moving, brilliantly written -- as sensual and lyric as it is emotionally resonant -- Fugitive Pieces delves into the most difficult workings of the human heart and mind: the grief and healing of remembrance.  It is a first novel of astonishing achievement.

Baker & Taylor
A young orphan smuggled out of Poland during World War II, poet Jakob Beer comes to understand the extraordinary power of language to destroy, restore, and witness as he struggles to cope with both grief and the healing of memory

Blackwell North Amer
Anne Michaels's fiercely beautiful debut novel tells the interlocking stories of three men of different generations whose lives are transformed by the events and shifting effects of the same war. At its center is poet Jakob Beer: traumatically orphaned as a young boy during the Second World war, rescued from the mud of a buried Polish city and secreted to a Greek island by Athos Roussos, scientist, scholar, and, above all, humanist.
After the war, in Toronto, where Athos has accepted a teaching post at the University, Jakob is faced with the tangible, insistent nature of the recent past: his own surfacing in all its darkness and profundity, the question of his beloved sister's fate its harrowing focus. Yet this is also the time when he meets the woman who will become his first wife, and begins his life-long work as a translator and poet. And in this layered process of reentering life, Jakob learns the power of language - to destroy, to omit, and to obliterate; but also to witness and tell, conjure and restore.
And it is in Toronto as well that, late in his life, Jakob will cross paths with Ben: a young professor, expert in the dramas of weather and biography but naive in the drama of his own life. The quiet elation Ben senses in the older man, and Ben's own connection to the wounding legacies of the war, kindle a fascination with Jakob and his writing, upsetting and then opening that part of himself long since shut down against his knowledge of the past.

& Taylor

A young orphan smuggled out of Poland during World War II, poet Jakob Beer comes to understand the extraordinary power of language to destroy, restore, and witness as he struggles to cope with both grief and the healing of memory. A first novel. 35,000 first printing. $35,000 ad/promo.

Publisher: New York : Alfred A. Knopf, 1997
Edition: First U.S. edition
Copyright Date: ©1996
ISBN: 9780679454397
Branch Call Number: FIC Mi 1997
Characteristics: 294 pages ; 21 cm


From the critics

Community Activity


Add a Comment

Dec 08, 2015

One of the best books that I have ever read!

Feb 06, 2015

A beautifully written book about how profoundly past generations affect future generations. Anne Michaels states thoughts so poetically, so beautifully. My new favorite book.

WVMLStaffPicks Dec 07, 2014

The migrations and displacements of the 20th century are encapsulated in the story of a Jewish boy who is saved and protected from the Nazis by a Greek professor.
With tenderly evocative prose, and yet not shying away from the misery of her story, the author follows Jakob’s life as he tries to find his own reality in the face of his family’s death. He is a fugitive who pieces a new life together from the memories of his sister, his parents and the kindly man who helps him.

Oct 01, 2011

This story, about the atrocities of the Second World War, winds the lives of three central characters first through Poland, and then Greece and Toronto. A definite winner for any book club. (Nov 2000)

Jul 25, 2011

I read this book in my English class in high school. I found it incredibly deep and difficult to read but it made me fall in love with poetry. The entire book has multiple layers of symbolism. Simple beautiful.

May 07, 2011

An example of writing as art, a complete masterpiece

Feb 21, 2011

Have to read her latest novel!
This one was excellent

Jan 07, 2011

So lyrical it takes several attempts to digest...a moving character-driven novel. On the 1001 books to read list.

May 26, 2010

great writing......depressing.....renting the movie put it all in perspective......all the very best parts, happy and sad

Feb 26, 2010

This is a wonderful novel full of emotion and poetic details. A fantastic read!

View All Comments


Add a Quote

Feb 06, 2015

I knew I must not open my mouth. The misery of bones that must be broken in order to be set straight.

Feb 06, 2015

Sometimes we need both hands to climb out of a place. Sometimes there are steep places, where one has to walk ahead of the other. If I can't find you, I'll look deeper in myself. If I can't keep up, if you're far ahead, look back. Look back.

Feb 06, 2015

It's not a persons depth you must discover,but their ascent. Find their path from depth to ascent.

AnarchyintheLC Aug 07, 2014

When a man dies, his secrets bond like crystals, like frost on a window. His last breath obscures the glass.

Jun 01, 2008

I wanted a line in a poem to be the hollow ney of the dervish orchestra whose plaintive wail is a call to God. But all I achieved was awkward shrieking. Not even the pure shriek of a reed in the rain.


Add Age Suitability

There are no ages for this title yet.


Add a Summary

There are no summaries for this title yet.


Add Notices

There are no notices for this title yet.

Explore Further

Browse by Call Number


Subject Headings


Find it at KHCPL

To Top