This book, documenting an American Jew's search for answers about his grandfather's experiences in the Holocaust, is perhaps one of the more bizarre novels I've ever had to read. Taking a strange, leaping structural form, Safran Froer moves between a fantasy retelling of a Ukrainian village and a Ukrainian (and quite terrible) attempting English. I know this perhaps doesn't cover exactly what happens, but the book should at least be read to see what I mean. Plot-wise, it's interesting enough. It's just that Alex (the Ukrainian boy who writes throughout) has such a bad hold on English that it's irritating to read, and as this was probably supposed to be the entertaining aspect of the book, it quickly becomes common and annoying. It's a shame, as the story is great. However, having to put up with this jokey English is so distracting as to ruin the novel.
I liked the way this book had two concurrent story lines, one which was a fantastical account of small town in Ukraine. The other, a tale of a (novelist??) who ends up on a road researching his new book. There are numerous twists to the story and I don't want to spoil them, so I won't be revealing too much about the plot. It's also worth persevering with even if you occasionally get a bit lost, as I ended doing. There was some great surreal imagery and some funny set pieces which were made even funnier by a farting dog called Sammy Davis Jnr. I can thoroughly recommed it.