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A New York Times Bestseller
A Booklist Editors' Choice Audio
An AudioFile Best Audiobook of the Year
A Publishers Weekly Best Book of the Year
A Shelf Awareness Best Book of the Year
A Bulletin Blue Ribbon Book
Winner of the Indies Choice Book Award
Winner of the Sydney Taylor Book Award
"Exquisite." —The Wall Street Journal
"This is masterly storytelling." —The New York Times Book Review
A stunning, beautiful, and ambitious debut novel set in Poland during the Second World War perfect for readers of All the Light We Cannot See and The Book Thief.
Kraków, 1939. A million marching soldiers and a thousand barking dogs. This is no place to grow up. Anna Łania is just seven years old when the Germans take her father, a linguistics professor, during their purge of intellectuals in Poland. She's alone.
And then Anna meets the Swallow Man. He is a mystery, strange and tall, a skilled deceiver with more than a little magic up his sleeve. And when the soldiers in the streets look at him, they see what he wants them to see.
The Swallow Man is not Anna’s father—she knows that very well—but she also knows that, like her father, he's in danger of being taken, and like her father, he has a gift for languages: Polish, Russian, German, Yiddish, even Bird. When he summons a bright, beautiful swallow down to his hand to stop her from crying, Anna is entranced. She follows him into the wilderness.
Over the course of their travels together, Anna and the Swallow Man will dodge bombs, tame soldiers, and even, despite their better judgment, make a friend. But in a world gone mad, everything can prove dangerous. Even the Swallow Man.
Destined to become a classic, Gavriel Savit's stunning debut reveals life's hardest lessons while celebrating its miraculous possibilities.
Customer ReviewsMost Helpful
By Cheryl on 06-10-16
Maybe I'm not smart enough...
The ending wasn't an ending - it was like the author just shut off his computer with a "I've done enough" attitude. I prefer to have books with an ending - either good or bad, but an ending
7 of 7 people found this review helpful
By LOVE_Reading_LOVE_Audiobooks! on 02-09-16
Depressingly beautiful as WWII stories have to be
Depressingly beautiful in the way the best novels about WWII have got to be. The writing is exquisite and the friendship between Anna and the Swallow Man is endearing and the whole language he teaches her in order to survive is a wonderfully clever metaphor for the horrors he fells Anna is still too young to fully comprehend. Actually, when it comes to the Holocaust, no one is older enough to fully comprehend that horror, but we still need to talk and read about it. The new generations can never be apart from it; everyone needs to be reminded of it on a constant basis in order to prevent it from happening again. Especially important in a time when we are seeing all too familiar speeches gathering sympathetic ears around the world, when Hitler-like figures are rising or trying to rise to power in some nations. It is never enough to read about WWII and the toad language may be a good way to approach young minds and bring them to the right side. To make them forever against not only the war but the idea that any human life is better than other or that any group can ever decide who should live or not.
This is a novel full of surprises, so don't think that it's just another WWII story. There are elements here that are very peculiar, very specific to this setting, to these characters. It is gorgeously written, lyrical and poetical. The audiobook is exquisitely narrated.
I just felt a bit lost at the end but it's probably my fault. I have some theories about the Swallow Man's identity and importance that I like, so that might be enough. I truly recommend this novel.
15 of 16 people found this review helpful