A riveting new novel from Pulitzer Prize-winning author Richard Kluger.
When grave family misfortune leaves thirteen-year-old Terry Sayre without parents or relatives to care for him in the summer of 1939, his only option to elude foster care by strangers is to accept asylum abroad with his mother’s Danish kin, people he met only briefly as a child. Despondent but not given to self-pity, Terry begins life anew sheltered in his formidable grandparents’ home in a coastal town an hour’s drive from Copenhagen, Denmark’s capital. But within months of his arrival, the Second World War breaks out. Serving as the emotional prism through which that monumental struggle is refracted, Terry’s older self recounts his precarious coming of age as an alien marooned in a disconcerting new land throughout its long national nightmare – an ordeal none of his peers was enduring back home safe in America. Spared the savage treatment Nazi Germany dealt other countries it conquered, Denmark was allowed to remain nominally self-governing. Good fortune, though, did not allow the proud, peaceloving little kingdom to escape the toll the war took on its people’s collective soul. Fearful of openly resisting or secretly harassing the German occupation at risk of lethal reprisals, Denmark made a complicitous pact with its tormentors to feed and equip their armed forces. As a result, the Danes suffered from self-hatred at home and contempt abroad as a land of shameless collaborators bartering their country’s honor to survive the war unbloodied. HAMLET’S CHILDREN by Richard Kluger is the story of a young American’s wrenching assimilation with his Danish relatives and their friends and of how he is pinioned in the same cruel vise with his adopted countrymen as they cunningly attempt to subvert the Germans’ iron grip on their kingdom. Paramount on this agenda of defiance is the Danes’ persistent effort to keep their Jewish neighbors out of the Nazis’ murderous hands. Vibrant with memorable characters and fraught with tension, this artfully crafted narrative, both heartbreaking and uplifting, is a testament to the human spirit in its bleakest hours.
“I couldn’t put down this richly depicted story, full of beautifully defined characters, in which fiction and fact are seamlessly woven together by Richard Kluger. The moral dilemma of the peaceable Danish people under Nazi occupation is seen through the eyes of a sensitive American teenager trapped far from home but sympathetically surrounded by a family of formidable relatives — especially his sexy, courageous guardian angel, Aunt Rikki, whose struggle to defy her country’s conquerors while preserving her honor all but steals the show. Hamlet’s Children deserves to be on everyone’s reading list.” —Julianna Margulies, award-winning actress, producer and author of the memoir Sunshine Girl: An Unexpected Life
“Meticulously researched and strikingly imagined, Hamlet’s Children possesses treasures for a wide range of readers, from history buffs to high school students (teachers take note!). Richard Kluger has created a pitch-perfect 1940s narrator in plucky young Terry Sayre — and the perfect set of eyes and ears for revealing the agonizing choices faced by the Danes during the Second World War. Harrowing and ultimately heart-warming, Hamlet’s Children will keep you turning pages far into the night.”
—Barbara Quick, author of Vivaldi’s Virgins
“Hamlet’s Children is a powerful and rousing novel of oppression and defiance in Denmark during World War II. I am particularly taken with how naturally the tale unfolds and the jaunty elegance of the prose. The depiction of the complex relationship between the narrator’s aunt and the German major is superb and worth a book of its own.” —R.Z. Sheppard, former book critic at Time magazine
“History vividly brought to life, Hamlet’s Children is an affecttionate but clear-eyed portrait of a Danish family under the Nazi occupation and of the young American relative who finds a risky shelter with them. Kluger captures the day-to-day feel of wartime, the menace, the moral compromises, and the occasional heroism.” —Joseph Kanon, author of The Good German
“In one small facet of World War II, the reader is drawn into a fully realized sense of that horrific conflict. Hamlet’s Children elegantly combines meticulous attention to the historical record with deft writing and the creation of indelible characters. Through them we see the gathering clouds of war over Denmark, the terror of German occupation, the indomitable spirit of the young American narrator’s anti-Nazi family – but also the ethical and political compromises the captive Danish people were forced to make.” —Stanislao G. Pugliese, author of The Legacy of Primo Levi
“Kluger’s masterly portrayal of the cruel Nazi occupation of Denmark, told through the eyes of a stranded American teenager, is not only a terrific premise for a coming-of-age story but a searing indictment of national aggression that rings as true as today's headlines.” —April Smith, author of Home Sweet Home
A native of Paterson, N.J., Richard Kluger grew up in Manhattan, graduated from Princeton University, where he chaired The Daily Princetonian, and as a young journalist worked for The Wall Street Journal, the pre-Murdoch New York Post and Forbes magazine before becoming the last literary editor of the New York Herald Tribune. When the Tribune folded, Kluger entered the book industry, rising to executive editor of Simon and Schuster, editor-in-chief of Atheneum, and publisher of Charterhouse Books. Of Kluger's seven novels previous to HAMLET'S CHILDREN, the most widely read have been Members of the Tribe, about which the Chicago Tribune wrote, "This excellent novel is a sobering story . . . filled with anguish and a sense of injustice, of hopes carefully nurtured and casually betrayed," and The Sheriff of Nottingham, which Time called "richly imagined and beautifully written." He also co-authored two novels with his wife Phyllis, a fiber artist and herself the author of two books on needlework design. The Klugers live in Berkeley.
Author City: BERKELEY, CA USA