Synopses & Reviews
A spare and haunting story of love, memory, and appetite from one of modern Europes darkest times.
Traveling to the worlds remote places, a daring scientist has spent his life collecting rare plants for the Soviet Union's premier botanical institute. From the Saharan desert to the mountain passes of Afghanistan, from the rivers of South America to the Abyssinian interior, he has feared no danger to recover specimens that trace back to the ancient civilizations of Babylon and Assyria. Even at home with the wife he reveres, his memory brims with the beautiful women and luscious foods he has known in exotic climes.
But when German troops surround Leningrad in the fall of 1941, he too becomes a captive of the city. With food supplies dwindling, residents strip bark from trees, barter priceless antiques for bread, and trade sex for sugar. In the bleakest hours of the hunger winter, the institute's scientists make a pact: no matter how desperate conditions become, they will protect the precious cache of seeds that is their gift to their country's future.
Based on true events from the second World War, Hunger is the powerful story of a mans confrontation with the riddle of his own morality. What is the meaning of cowardice or bravery, honor or betrayal, when life hangs on the smallest of decisions? Is survival the ultimate victory or the ultimate loss?
A stunning debut by a remarkable new writer, Hunger is a beautifully crafted exploration of the choices people make in extraordinary circumstances."
"...original and engrossing...an exploration of love and betrayal, as well as for some richly sensual evocations of the pleasures of eating." J. M. Coetzee, two-time Booker prize-winning author of Youth and Disgrace
"A striking debut....a wrenching existential drama that Blackwell handles with spare prose and abundant compassion." Elle
"Every detail historical, geographical, botanical is perfect and in its place, and thematerial itself is gripping. Yet the fiction, psychologically, remains penurious, brittle, unalive. Ambitiously conceived, carefully planned, impeccably researched but, like a kind of term-paper novel, curiously unmoving." Kirkus Reviews
"[A] story wrought with sensuous detail....This diminutive volume holds a spare 133 pages and measures a mere four-and-a-half by seven inches. But, what it lacks in size it makes up for in elegant, beautifully descriptive prose." Ann Ellenbecker, Powells.com
(read the entire Powells.com review
- As a tale of ordinary people caught up in extreme circumstances, HUNGER will appeal to readers of Ann Patchett's "Bel Canto, Sebastian Faulks's "Birdsong, and Wladyslaw Szpilman's "The Pianist.- A feat of imaginative storytelling--a novel that immerses the reader in passion and romance even as it puts a human face on some of the 20th century's darkest hours.- The novel's brevity and haunting power make it a perfect selection for reading groups. This paperback edition features a bound-in reading group guide.
"Hunger" is a haunting and spare first novel about love and survival--and the beauty and pain that come with it--based on a heroic true story from the Siege of Leningrad.