Smuggled: A Novelby Christina Shea
Five-year-old Eva is trafficked from Hungary to Romania at the end of/i>
Sweeping from postWWII rural Romania to the cosmopolitan Budapest of 1990, Christina Shea’s Smuggled is the story of Eva Farkas, who loses her identity, quite literally, as a young child when she is smuggled in a flour sack across the Hungarian border to escape the Nazis.
Five-year-old Eva is trafficked from Hungary to Romania at the end of the war, arriving in the fictional border town of Crisu, given the name Anca Balaj by her aunt and uncle and instructed never to speak another word of Hungarian again. Eva is dead,” she is told. As the years pass, Anca proves an unquenchable spirit, with a lust for life even when political forces threaten to derail her at every turn. Time is layered in this quest for self, culminating in the end of the Iron Curtain and Anca’s reclaiming of the name her mother gave her. When Eva returns to Hungary in 1990, a country changing as fast as the price of bread, she meets Martin, an American teacher, and Eva’s lifelong search for family and identity comes full circle as her cross-cultural relationship with Martin deepens through their endeavor to rescue the boy downstairs from abuse.
An intimate look at the effects of history on an individual life, Smuggled is a raw and fearless account of transformation, and a viscerally reflective tale about the basic need for love without claims.
A novel about identity set over the course of four decades, from the author ofMoira's Crossing(2000).
In 1943, on a train in Hungary, 5-year-old Éva, daughter of Eszter and György, slips into a flour sack. She steps out in Romania as Anca, her parents now Auntie Kati and Uncle Ilie. Had she stayed in Hungary, she surely would have died during World War II; Eszter dies on her way to Auschwitz and György by his own hand, of a broken heart. Shea does an excellent job of capturing the individuality at the heart of a war that most readers know only from textbook summaries. Kati handles her new charge with a combination of distance and nurturing. The scenes with Miss Pharmacist, Anca's first friend and her first real betrayer in Romania, add complexity to the adult world without compromising the novel's focus on young Anca. In her new home in Romania, she pushes back against her name change, "such an ugly name—like glass breaking," but we also see her start to mature. Anca goes on to lead an intense life, maintaining her secret identity for half a century while meeting others who also carry secrets sprung from the changing times: another secret Jew, a closeted homosexual, a back-alley abortion doctor, a fetishist, a power-abusing coach in the burgeoning European table tennis world. Her favorite childhood story is about a prideful princess and a resourceful, self-aware swineherd. Throughout these pages, she becomes both.
A satisfying read.
- Grove/Atlantic, Inc.
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- 2 MB
Meet the Author
Christina Shea received her B.A. from Kenyon College and her M.F.A. from the University of Michigan. She lives with her husband and son in Boston.
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