The Goose Fritz

New Vessel. Mar. 2019. 322p. tr. from Russian by Antonina W. Bouis. ISBN 9781939931641. pap. $17.95. F
This new work from the masterly Lebedev (Oblivion) opens with a war veteran taking out his rage on the goose Fritz and Fritz's feathered flock, summing up the uneasy relationship between Russians and Germans, and especially Germans in Russia, over two centuries. Scholarly Kirill remembers the killing and also his mysterious visits with Grandmother Lina to Moscow's German Cemetery, where it's finally revealed that she was born Karolina Schwerdt, burying her German identity when she married Grandfather Konstantin in 1945. As Kirill begins exploring his ancestry—he was descended from the son of a prominent surgeon who migrated to Russia in the 1830s—readers get a palpable sense of history's weight and also of its loss. Perhaps the saddest passages here concern Lina's papers, missing so many pages as events and people were systematically expunged for safety's sake.
VERDICT Another inspiring Lebedev work for discerning readers.
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