BOOKS: by Paul RussellNews Weekly
Despite the Barking Dogs, by Stanislaw Gotowicz
, April 23, 2005
Adventure set in wartime PolandDESPITE THE BARKING DOGS
By Stanislaw Gotowicz
Adelaide: self-published, Paperback RRP: $24.95 + P&HAvailable from the Thomas More Centre, Adelaide.
Orders ph: (08) 8379 0246, or e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.orgStanislaw Gotowicz, in his 80th year has produced his second book in English, drawing deeply on his personal experiences of wartime Poland and as a Polish refugee.Despite the Barking Dogs
is a fictional work, based loosely on a true story.
Tracing the effects of World War II in the intersections of two families - one of German aristocracy, the other Polish Jewry - the author skilfully draws the reader into webs of intrigue, tragedy and the frailties of the human heart set against the backdrop of a rapidly changing Europe.
The opening scene is a Warsaw railway station in 1939. A Polish academic of Jewish ancestry sends his young wife and their son to his family in the countryside as he fears for their safety with the German invasion of Poland imminent.
From this point we follow the fortunes of Hela Poznanski as, alone, she fights to protect her son, Olesh, and his identity as a Jew from the German garrison that has detained her as an interpreter. Gradually, the son develops as the main character and we follow him in recovering his lost identity as he finds his natural father in unusual circumstances.
The story that unfolds is more than just a good wartime adventure. The development of the characters and their complicated relationships, the triumph of human dignity and the pathos of divided loyalties and unexpected reunions - all these set this book apart as an opus of the literary fiction genre.
I, for one, would not be at all surprised if Despite the Barking Dogs
were not included on the reading lists for English studies in the near future.
As World War II drifts further into history, young people particularly need to read works such as this to ensure that the evils of war remain in their minds as not merely matters of historical fact but also of deep personal loss mixed with individual triumphs of integrity played out on a grand scale.
For serious study or simply for enjoyment, Despite the Barking Dogs
is a most entertaining book that takes the reader on an emotional roller-coaster ride, leaving a sense of satisfaction and gratitude for having taken the journey.