The Brass Age
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Both a family saga and a great historical novel, in which the history of Yugoslavia forms part of a larger European background, The Brass Age is primarily the story of the 'Volksdeutscher', a German minority in North-Eastern Croatia (Slavonia) who emigrated to these regions in the 18th century as part of the reforms of Empress Maria Theresa. These Germans, who integrated into the local population, were conscripted into the Waffen SS. The novel's protagonist, the narrator's father, is forced into this military service and eventually deserts despite the danger this entails. At the core of this novel is a tragic love story between the narrator's parents; two characters burdened by their divided history. Former fighters in opposing camps – one a committed Partisan and the other a deserter of the German army – if they had met earlier, each one would have killed the other.
Blending ancient myths with dark reality, Šnajder creates a panorama of a disintegrated world that only a poet looking to the past could unite. The Brass Age is a captivating tale and one that makes us reflect on immigration, identity and the existential meaning of art and life.