Set during the frigid Berlin winter of 1946, Vyleta's wily debut follows the exploits of an American GI, a German street urchin and an enigmatic prostitute as they struggle to survive both the cold and the looming Cold War. Pavel Richter, an American soldier who remained in Berlin after the war, is shocked when his friend Boyd White shows up at his door with a dead German midget. After agreeing to help Boyd hide the body, Pavel and his friend Anders are thrust into the middle of a conspiracy that runs deeper than they could ever imagine. Boyd soon turns up dead, and Pavel and Anders discover that the midget, Söldmann, was a spy for the occupying Russians and was set to deliver a mysterious package on the night of his death. Boyd's and Söldmann's deaths arouse the interest of Pavel's upstairs neighbors, the nefarious British Colonel Fosko and his prostitute companion, Sonia, who join the Russians and Germans in the hunt for Söldmann's lost loot, and Pavel finds himself falling in love with Sonia. Despite an overabundance of minor characters and a conclusion that isn't exactly surprising, Vyleta conjures a convincing postwar Berlin in all of its moral ambiguity. (Feb.)Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
Pavel and Iby Dan Vyleta
An electrifying, suspenseful novel set during the winter of 1946-47, one of the coldest on record, Pavel & I unfolds against the tattered social fabric of postwar Berlin. Pavel Richter, a decommissioned GI, finds himself at odds with a rogue British army colonel and a Soviet general when a friend deposits the frozen body of a dead Russian spy in his/i>
An electrifying, suspenseful novel set during the winter of 1946-47, one of the coldest on record, Pavel & I unfolds against the tattered social fabric of postwar Berlin. Pavel Richter, a decommissioned GI, finds himself at odds with a rogue British army colonel and a Soviet general when a friend deposits the frozen body of a dead Russian spy in his apartment. So begins the race to take possession of the spy's secret, a race that threatens Pavel's friendship with a street orphan named Anders and his budding love for Sonia, his enigmatic upstairs neighbor. As the action hurtles toward catastrophe, the hunt merges with one for the truth about the novel's protagonist: Who exactly is Pavel Richter?
Praise for Pavel & I:
"Pavel & I has plenty of plot (including a dead midget in a suitcase), a crowd of desperate characters (including a whore with a heart of tarnished gold) and an unusual narrative scheme-but most of all, it has atmosphere, a vividly rendered time and place: Berlin in the frigid winter of 1946-47, rubble, starvation and no brakes on anyone's instinct for self-preservation."-New York Observer
"The novel is grotesque, sometimes funny, and completely chilling, a wonderful re-creation of the Europe of 1946. Dan Vyleta is a name to watch."-Cleveland Plain Dealer
"Impressive ... Readers in search of a good story will find one here."-Denver Post
The son of Czech refugees who immigrated to Germany in the late 1960s, Berlin-based Vyleta sets his debut in Berlin in the terrible winter of 1946-47. His narrator Petersen, the "I" of the title, is a freelance torturer for an obese British colonel named Fosko. When an American grifter dumps the body of a dead midget on Pavel Richter and is killed soon after, Pavel attracts the attention of the colonel. Apparently, the midget was a spy for General Karpov of the Soviet NKVD (secret police) and had in his possession "merchandise" of interest to all. But just who is Pavel? He appears to be simply an ex-GI, an American who abandoned his wife in the States and lives in squalid conditions with Anders, a 12-year-old orphan. Pavel, a quiet scholar at heart, and Anders are soon forced to turn for help to Sonia, a prostitute who has just moved in upstairs. In the midst of these entangled lives and against a noirish backdrop of starvation and ghastly cold lies many a mystery. But the mysteries themselves-and the details of plot-are far less interesting than the characters, whose unusual lives are explored with masterful depth. Recommended for larger public libraries.
“DAN VYLETA'S PAVEL & I (Bloomsbury, $24.95) has plenty of plot (including a dead midget in a suitcase), a crowd of desperate characters (including a whore with a heart of tarnished gold) and an unusual narrative scheme--but most of all, it has atmosphere, a vividly rendered time and place: Berlin in the frigid winter of 1946-47, rubble, starvation and no brakes on anyone's instinct for self-preservation.” Adam Begley, New York Observer
“Pavel and I, (Bloomsbury, 344 pp., $24.95), a debut by Dan Vyleta, spools out moodily in post-World War II Berlin. Pavel Richter, who worked for the Americans during the war, now suffers from poverty and a painful kidney infection. He nurses a hopeless love for Sonia, the prostitute downstairs. He carries on an odd friendship with a young urchin who knows too many secrets. When an American friend, Boyd White, mysteriously appears in Pavel's coldwater flat to deliver a dead Russian dwarf's body for safekeeping, things get a lot worse. White ends up tortured and killed, and Pavel is cornered by a government interrogator. Their relationship evolves into a kind of Stockholm Syndrome, where the two men - on bitter, opposite sides - develop a mutual affection that fails to soften the menace of their sessions together. The novel is grotesque, sometimes funny, and completely chilling, a wonderful re-creation of the Europe of 1946. Dan Vyleta is a name to watch.” Les Roberts, Cleveland Plain Dealer
“Impressive...There is a lot to admire about Pavel & I. As a thriller, it is highly admirable. Like most mysteries, literary and cinematic, this one grows complex nearly to the point of irritation; but unlike most, this one is entirely logical, and every dead body is accounted for...Readers in search of a good story will find one here.” Roger K. Miller, Denver Post
“A tremendous first novel that will gather accolades like shards of broken glass littering the once-fashionable Kurfurstendamm. PAVEL AND I is not to be missed.” Bill Webb, I Love a Mystery
- Bloomsbury USA
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- 5.50(w) x 8.20(h) x 1.00(d)
Meet the Author
Dan Vyleta is the son of Czech refugees who emigrated to Germany in the late 1960s. He holds a PhD in History from the University of Cambridge, and lives and works in Canada. This is his first novel.
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This is a fine book by a very talented writer. While it has been marketed as a spy story - and it surely is that - Pavel and I also makes an intriguing argument about historiography and imagination. The book is essentially about ideas. I think fans of thrillers and literary fiction alike will find much to love here! Highly recommended.
Germany surrendered to the allies just over a year ago, but the occupation remains everywhere in the battered country divided up between America, France, England and Russia. Adding to the despondency is the weather is icy cold as 1946 turns into 1947.---------------- American G.I. Pavel Richter remains in brutally freezing Berlin. His friend Boyd White arrives at his home asking for help as he has the corpse of a local midget to dispose of. Getting over his initial shock, Pavel agrees to help conceal the body in his place for now. However soon afterward Boyd is killed and Pavel learns the body living with him is a Russian double agent Suldmann whose delivery package is missing. Pavel¿s neighbors British Colonel Fosko and his prostitute Sonia along with German and Russian agents seek whatever Suldmann was carrying while Pavel just wants to get out of the mess he inadvertently finds himself in although he is in love with Sonia.------------------ This is a fabulous historical mystery in which the atmosphere of Berlin just after WWI owns the well written story line. The prime players especially Pavel seem genuine. However the cast of a zillion support characters bring alive the war battered residents struggling with sustenance in any way possible as any pre war ethics mean nothing on an empty stomach but intrudes on the main plot of deadly rivals competing to find Suldmann¿s cache. ------------------- Harriet Klausner