The Goose Fritz
Publisher: New Vessel Press
This revelatory novel shows why Karl Ove Knausgaard has likened its celebrated Russian author to an "indomitable ... animal that won't let go of something when it gets its teeth into it." The book tells the story of a young Russian named Kirill, the sole survivor of a once numerous clan of German origin, who delves relentlessly into the unresolved past. His ancestor, Balthasar Schwerdt, son of a prominent surgeon, migrated to the Russian Empire in the 1830s, where he practiced alternative medicine, landing in the court of Catherine the Great. Schwerdt became captive to an erratic nobleman who supplied midgets, hunchbacks from Africa, and magicians to entertain the empress. Kirill’s investigation takes us through centuries of turmoil during which none of the German’s nine children or their descendants can escape their adoptive country’s cruel fate. Intent on uncovering buried mysteries, Kirill searches archives and cemeteries across Europe, while pressing witnesses for keys to understanding. The Goose Fritz illuminates both personal and political history in a passion-filled family saga about an often confounding country that has long fascinated the world.