Michel has a story to tell. It’s about his father, an exquisitely common man whose very ordinariness is a source of grave embarrassment for the boy. It’s also the story told to him by his uncle, who shared a family secret with the child in the flickering black and white images of a Sunday matinee.
Years before, in the bitter years of World War II, during the Nazi occupation of France, two brothers found themselves at the mercy of a German guard following an explosive act of resistance. Thrown into a deep pit with a small group of terrified prisoners, the men are told that one of them will die by dawn to serve as an example for the others. It’s up to the prisoners to propose who will be sacrificed. But in the middle of the night, the guard returns with an extraordinary proposition of his own.
A novel of revelation, innocence and ignorance, of the power of language and the strength and complexity of family, In Our Strange Gardens is a fable of nuance and power, a mesmerizing addition to the literature of war.