Grigori Kanovich

Ocharovan'e satany Devilspel
Novel. 2002. 231 pages
Foreign rights: Germany, Lithuania, Macedonia

The novel is set during the tragic few weeks in June-July 1941, when the German army in a sudden attack defeated the Red Army and within a few days occupied Lithuania. Kanovich limits the spatial horizon of his novel to a small isolated village deep in the Lithuanian heartland. After the outbreak of the war Mishkine seems to be cut off from the surrounding world with all normal connections suspended. The village is too insignificant for the Germans to maintain their presence there, and its residents are left to their own devices. Slowly and painstakingly, Kanovich investigates the spiritual depths of the characters, simple shtetl Jews and Lithuanian peasants, exposing their moral strengths and weaknesses. He lets them speak in their voices and articulate their positions, but as an omniscient narrator he guides the story the final tragic historical juncture where the age-long peaceful Jewish-Lithuanian coexistence explodes and falls apart forever. Kanovich’s writing is informed by his deep native knowledge of the Lithuanian countryside where he grew up in the 1930s, but he is no less intimately familiar with the Russian and Jewish cultures. Yet his real interest as a writer is in exploring the fundamental and universal ethical conflict between good and evil, which transcends the limits of concrete space and time.

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