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Dennis Bock

Autor(a) de The Ash Garden

13+ Works 527 Membros 19 Críticas

About the Author

Dennis Bock Dennis Bock was born on Lake Ontario, in the small town of Belleville on August 28, 1964. He moved from there with his family to Oakville, just west of Toronto, when he was six. He entered the University of Western Ontario after high school, and graduated with an Honors BA in English mostrar mais and Philosophy. He traveled to Madrid after college and began writing his collection of connected stories, Olympia, working on it while in residence at Yaddo, the Banff Centre and the Fundacion Valparadiso, Spain. It was published in 1998 by Bloomsbury US and UK, and by Doubleday Canada. It won several prizes in the UK and Canada. Olympia won the Jubilee Award and the Danuta Gleed Award in Canada, as well as the Betty Trask Prize UK in England. It was also a Globe and Mail Notable Book of the Year in 1998. The book was nominated for both the IMPAC Dublin Literary Award and the City of Toronto Book Award. Bock's novel The Ash Garden was the Winner of the 2002 Canada-Japan Literary Award Bock's short stories have also been published in literary magazines and anthologies. Some of his works include The Ash Garden, The Communist's Daughter, and Olympia. (Bowker Author Biography) mostrar menos
Image credit: Derek Shapton

Obras por Dennis Bock

Associated Works

Hebbes 5 (2002) — Contribuidor — 4 exemplares


Conhecimento Comum



I purchased this book a while ago and it finally made it to the top of my TBR. I must admit, I was confused at the beginning because I did not re-read the synopsis of the book. However, i was quickly able to figure out what the premise of the book was and get right in to the story.

I love the alternate story line for the World War.
Shauna_Morrison | 1 outra crítica | Dec 20, 2023 |
An alternative history, describing what would happen if the fascists really won WW2. Set in Canada, written in multiple time periods, this story had me enthralled by page five and wouldn’t let me go.

The other reviews on this page tell more about the plot and talk about the revisionist historical nature of it, about the dreadful outcomes that can result even when we think we are doing good. This is all true, and so well-described and written the book is worth a read just for these.

(I truly love a book where the author knows exactly how much description and backstory is needed- not a word is extra here and every one is perfect)

But I encourage people to read this as a cautionary tale as fascism rears its head again, as hatred against one group or another is being fanned into heat by politicians and media. We are but steps away from the reality of crazed mobs burning down buildings again. The situation described in this book could easily become reality. It just takes one misguided person, perhaps, to tilt fate…

A sobering read, but despite this, somehow filled with hope. I must read more by this author!
… (mais)
Dabble58 | 1 outra crítica | Nov 11, 2023 |
There are moments of brilliant writing in this novel. It is a character study set in recent history.

A German scientist, an Austrian teenager, a Japanese girl of six - all connected by the bombing of Hiroshima. Anton escapes Germany and comes to America to work on the Manhattan Project. Sophie leaves her Jewish father and Gentile mother as a teenager bound for Cuba, but marooned at sea until bureaucracy allows her to come to Canada. Emiko, scarred by the blast's effects, comes to America to get her face back.

It's a very different book. Strangely compelling.
… (mais)
BookConcierge | 6 outras críticas | Feb 11, 2016 |
i finished this book last night and have spent all day today trying to figure out what to say about it. bock's writing is so lovely - it's truly elegant and beautiful. and he handles some heavy issues of morality very well, reflecting the complicated nature of being human in an often inhumane world. given the chaos and life-changing nature of the events bock takes on, the restraint is impressive. bock is quite subtle in his examinations, and he levels no judgments or opinions in presenting his characters and their actions.

in the back of the edition of my book is a wonderful interview with bock. in it, he is asked about the appeal of moral complexity as a writer. his response:

" As a reader I've always been drawn to "Big Question" books that might introduce certain questions to the reader's mind but do not claim to provide answers to those questions. I love a good mystery, but not in the conventional sense of that word: the mystery of right behaviour, moral choice, responsible action. I'm put off by novels that pretend to answer the questions they raise. There can't be answers - not sincere or meaningful answers - to the questions of moral action raised in a great book. A serious writer, in my mind, attempts to expose the flip side to any commonly held belief. It's a shell game of sorts, with each shell containing, or seemingly so, the seed of truth. Point to it with anything resembling conviction or certainty and you will be proven wrong. That being said, a novel isn't a game. It doesn't try to cause the reader to stumble, but in resisting an easy answer regarding a character's choices the reader might find himself in the confusing position of simultaneously loving and hating a character, his choices, his beliefs. For me a novel is at its best when it brings contradiction to the surface of a character's life and when those contradictions and confusions are highlighted by virtue of a dramatic conflict between characters. In exposing those contradictions by the right positioning of character, setting and drama, you approach the heart of what it is to be human. There is, in this world, instead of the simple black and white universe of poorly imagined fiction, and infinite variety of greys."

i loved this! and i do feel bock succeeds really well in writing about the moral complexity of both anton böll and emiko. and sophie too.

but there is something that is tripping me up, something that felt a bit flat which i can't quite put my finger on.

the novel started out very strongly for me and i was completely captivated by emiko's story line. anton böll was an equally interesting character -- a scientist who escaped germany in order to secure better work in his field, ending up an integral player on the manhattan project. sophie is the third character - a hungarian-german escapee. the story of these three non-combatants moves from character to character, back and forth in time, from the day the bomb was dropped on hiroshima, to a time nearly 50 years later. all three lives are connected and fundamentally changed by war, and by each other.

there is also the aspect of illness handled in the novel. i will hide this bit because the nature of the illness, though presented early on, is a bit of a slow reveal. sophie - wife of anton böll lives with lupus. it was mostly handled well by bock, so i suspect this disease is something he has familiarity with in his own life. i have lupus so encountering the issue in fiction is interesting to me, and not something that happens a lot. i feel a bit stuck on the way sophie's lupus was portrayed, even though i felt it was mostly okay. my 'yeah but...' moments: 1. her diagnosis happened very quickly which would be unusual for the time (1940s). 2. it felt like this portrayal of lupus is to represent lupus completely, which would not be accurate. bock presents one form of lupus only, and maybe even mislabels it - i have to reread this one bit. he spells out the SLE diagnosis. in fact, much more time is spent addressing sophie's discoid lupus or CLE or DLE. i do believe that these forms make one more susceptible to SLE... and sophie, who dealt with only skin issues for many years, (she had the malar rash only once, and then had the plaques/lesions and scarring on her body) did develop serious kidney involvement. but i feel like this was a confusion in the plot. though it may very well make no matter to another reader unfamiliar with lupus. and it may very well be an accurate portrayal when the diagnosis was given to sophie in the 1940s. we have come a long way in the field since then. so i am also prepared to be outright wrong on this point. so i can't quite decide if i am being too picky over a fictionalization, or if it's reasonable to want more clarity/accuracy where this plot point is concerned?

overall the ash garden is a moving and sensitive portrayal of three lives forever changed by one catastrophic day. i feel as though aspects of the novel are going to sit with me for a good long time, carrying more weight than my quibbles.
… (mais)
JooniperD | 6 outras críticas | Jan 11, 2016 |



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