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Magnus

by Sylvie Germain

Franz-Georg Dunkeltal is five years old at the end of WW2 but who is Magnus? Franz has a gap in his memory due to an ‘illness’ and he can’t remember what happened to cause his family’s flight from Germany. A very unusual, sometimes challenging but immensely moving book which unfolds in fragments as Franz begins to discover the disturbing truth of his own identity.

Extract

They have lost everything, even their names. They have swapped that of Dunkeltal for Keller: the parents are now called Otto and Augusta Keller, and he simply Franz Keller. Only his bear Magnus is entitled to retain his original identity. The child interprets this absurd alteration in his own way. He tells himself that in the bewildering confusion that now prevails, where the least thing, even a crust of bread, a cigarette butt become a tradeable item, a name too can have an exchangeable value ... he keeps to himself his bewilderment, his doubts and questions, and lets them gravely mature in his solitude.
Translated by Christine Donougher

Parallels

The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas by John Boyne
The Book of Nights by Sylvie Germain
 

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