“[A] splendid debut novel. . . . This is masterly storytelling.” —The New York Times
Set in Poland during the Second World War, Anna and the Swallow Man is a stunning, literary, and wholly original New York Times bestseller and Publishers Weekly best book of the year perfect for readers of The Book Thief and All the Light We Cannot See.
Kraków, 1939. A million marching soldiers and a thousand barking dogs. This is no place to grow up. Anna Łania 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.
“Exquisite.” —The Wall Street Journal
“A graceful story steeped in history, magic, myth, and archetype.” —The Horn Book Magazine, Starred
“This deeply moving debut novel casts naivete against the cruel backdrop of inhumanity.” —Publishers Weekly, Starred
“[A] quiet exploration of love and its limits.” —The Bulletin, Starred
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Excerpted from "Anna and the Swallow Man"
Copyright © 2016 Gavriel Savit.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
A gorgeous, thoughtful, exciting adventure! I was hooked from the start and couldn't put it down! Beautifully written. Poetically descriptive. I can't wait to see what this talented new author will offer next! READ THIS BOOK!
On November 6, 1939, Germany implemented Sonderaktion Krakau. The plan was to round up all the intellectuals and academics in Poland. At the time, seven year old Anna Lania was living happily with her father, a Linguistics Professor, in Krakow, Poland. During her short life her father had schooled Anna in many languages, and introduced her to many people from different cultures. Summoned to a meeting at the University, her father leaves her in the care of a friend. When he doesn’t return, and locked out of the apartment they share, she takes to the street. There she meets an extraordinary man. This tall, imposing man, known to Anna only as the Swallow Man, will take her under his wing and teach her how to survive in a hostile world. Anna and the Swallow Man by Gavriel Savit is a short coming-of-age novel. It’s about the bond that joins a precocious little girl with two very different men as they struggle to survive in a war torn country. Reb Hirschl is the perfect foil to the Swallow Man. He brings a lightness, a conscience to the story, whereas the Swallow Man is all rigidity and science. There is a little bit of mystery surrounding the Swallow Man character. His identity is never revealed to the reader, but we are given tantalizing clues. Besides the interesting characters, I liked the way the author uses metaphor to help explain the conflict between Germany and Russia to the young protagonist. War can be a difficult subject, yet this author’s unique plot and deft writing style deliver a first rate story.
Story of a trusting child and a jaded man who travel together through World War 2 Poland and environs staying hidden from the Nazis. The Swallow Man is mysterious and private, but teaches Anna how to survive in the world.
What starts in Krakow at the dawn of World War II quickly turns from historical fiction into historical fairy-tale. Orphaned during the German invasion of Poland, Anna finds a strange, harsh new life on the road with an unlikely protector – The Swallow Man. His primary skill is survival, and his second is languages, which is where Anna first starts to bond with this strange man. Like any good fairy-tale, it is an epic journey that explores humanity on different levels and in different ways. In the darkest hour there is kindness still to be found… but oh is there darkness. I don’t tend to read WWII fiction, because I know it will depress me and if I’m going to do that I may as well read the non-fiction. Despite that fact, I have still read many middle grade war novels, and have to say this is a unique offering. The writing is magical and by staying on the fringes of the war for the most part, we’re offered a fresh angle. I’m not sure where this book will end up – in middle grade or young adult, but I feel it is important to not underestimate the importance of such a tale, or the value of such to a child. With a language warning (if you believe in such things, for one or two instances), I could easily see this book appropriate for 12 and up. Anna is beautifully portrayed – the hopes, fears, and concerns of a young girl growing into a young woman are treated well. This was an unexpected treasure.
Anna And The Swallow Man tells the story of how World War 2 effected a little girl named Anna. Anna's father was a professor and had to leave Anna one day for a lecture that all professors had to attended only to be taken by the Germans. As Anna being only 7 and left alone, a strange man who is later called Swallow Man by Anna, comes along and sparks her curiosity about who he is and where he is from. When Anna sees the Swallow Man leaving town, she decides to follow him to see where he goes and ends up traveling with him for the next couple of years, avoiding people at all cost. When Swallow Man leaves Anna by herself for a couple of hours, Anna meets a young Jewish boy who ends up traveling with them until a fight splits them up. As Anna grows up in this during this rough period of time, she is only more curious at what the future is to bring at the end. I'm kinda torn about this book, I want to give it a higher rating than a 4 but it should have been a better ending than what it was. I did like how Gavriel wrote this book in a whole new light of what happened during World War 2 even though it was kinda slow at times, it still was a pretty good book. I would like to see another book just to see where they were headed to and to completely wrap up the story line. Thank You to Gavriel Savit for writing a book that's put a whole new spin on what some people went through during World War 2. I received this book from the Publisher in exchange for a honest review.
Really connected with the characters. Can't wait to find more books like it