In his retirement, when he wasn’t watching military history documentaries on the television, my grandfather, once a lieutenant-colonel in the Australian Army, was busy with the retrospective task of growing his family tree. From the stories and images of the wars that cut down entire forests of generations, Grandpa would turn to historical records and archives on the internet, records from the Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages, the resources of the local historical society, following from the leaves of his current generation the crowning branches of his parents’, further down to the trunk and roots of the distant past.
It is with an eye to the same end – the quest for one’s origins – that acclaimed Hungarian author Miklós Vámos has written his novel, The Book of Fathers. I must admit to a faint shock upon learning of the distinction Vámos has claimed for himself in his career (among them one of Hungary’s top literary awards), for after having read The Book of Fathers, he seems wholly undeserving of them. Read the rest of this entry »