A New York Times Bestseller
A Publishers Weekly Best Book of the Year
A Shelf Awareness Best Book of the Year
A Bulletin Blue Ribbon Book
Winner of the Indies Choice Book Award
Winner of the Sydney Taylor Book Award
"Exquisite." --The Wall Street Journal
"This is masterly storytelling." --The New York Times Book Review A stunning, beautiful, and ambitious debut novel set in Poland during the Second World War perfect for readers of All the Light We Cannot See and The Book Thief. Krakow, 1939. A million marching soldiers and a thousand barking dogs. This is no place to grow up. Anna Lania is just seven years old when the Germans take her father, a linguistics professor, during their purge of intellectuals in Poland. She's alone. And then Anna meets the Swallow Man. He is a mystery, strange and tall, a skilled deceiver with more than a little magic up his sleeve. And when the soldiers in the streets look at him, they see what he wants them to see. The Swallow Man is not Anna's father--she knows that very well--but she also knows that, like her father, he's in danger of being taken, and like her father, he has a gift for languages: Polish, Russian, German, Yiddish, even Bird. When he summons a bright, beautiful swallow down to his hand to stop her from crying, Anna is entranced. She follows him into the wilderness. Over the course of their travels together, Anna and the Swallow Man will dodge bombs, tame soldiers, and even, despite their better judgment, make a friend. But in a world gone mad, everything can prove dangerous. Even the Swallow Man. Destined to become a classic, Gavriel Savit's stunning debut reveals life's hardest lessons while celebrating its miraculous possibilities.
- ISBN-13: 9780553513349
- ISBN-10: 0553513346
- Publisher: Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers
- Publish Date: January 2016
An unlikely caretaker and ally
At the beginning of the German invasion of Poland during World War II, a young girl matures and crafts a life out of the madness of war.
Seven-year-old Anna and her father, a professor, maintain a pleasant routine in the city of Kraków. One day, Anna’s father leaves her in the care of a friend while he attends a mandatory university meeting, but her father never returns. When the friend subsequently abandons Anna, she falls under the authoritative scrutiny of the Swallow Man, a tall, very thin, rather scary man who has the ability to communicate with birds.
Anna decides to place her trust and her life in the Swallow Man’s hands. Her instincts serve her well, as he keeps Anna safe for several years, teaching her to survive in the wilderness. They walk endlessly through forests, avoiding towns and people, even at times removing items from dead soldiers in order to survive.
Gavriel Savit’s debut novel doesn’t avoid the hard topics as it addresses the extermination of Jews and lays bare the devastating effects of war. However, all is not grim once the Swallow Man allows a cheerful young man to join them. This newcomer adds a semblance of normalcy to a world strafed by war, and the ending sees Anna heading toward a bright future.