Fabyan Place is a wartime historical fiction set against WW-II. The scaffold of the story is based on the brutalities endured by prisoners of wars (POWs) in Nazi camps, and racial discrimination faced by native and black soldiers of the USA army. Sonny and John are the lead characters. The author introduces them intermittently.
On the day of Christmas 1945, Sonny receives a call from someone calling himself John. Sonny is shocked as the only John whom he knew was dead in the action. It triggers a flood of wartime memories and he is transported to those painful days of POW camps in Europe.
Sonny was drafted in the US army to fight among the allies in Europe. When he is posted there, he observes baseless discrimination of Negro and black soldiers in the army. It was heartbreaking for him. Racial discrimination is one part of the story, but it mainly tells the mental and physical struggle of many POWs for life and self-esteem. The novel looks like based on true events. You will be startled to know the treatment types in prison camps, some were treated well, while some were kept in abysmal circumstances, and Jews and Negros were shot at the first sight. Besides, the novel is poignant in painting the hunger and suffering and mental trauma of the prisoners. They were beaten, shot dead, starved, emaciated and exposed to bitter and harsh cold of Europe.
In the prison camp, Sonny talks about his good days at Fabyan Place…eating good food with family…he builds hope in many prisoners by sharing stories about Fabyan Place. His stories of Fabyan Place keep many optimistic about survival. In fact, it epitomizes hope during wartime.
In the camp, John and Sonny meet, they become good friends. John’s family history is way intriguing and interesting. The first half of the novel is about Sonny. In the second part, the author introduces John – a light -skinned Negro who was passed as white by the Germans. Had they discovered his origin, he would have got killed like others.
They not only suffer together in the prison but also sent to the famous death camp of Berga. Someone passed the news that John is a Negro but in Berga the quirk of fate plays its role. The most feared German guard Kratzer (Schwartz) was after John. He wants to kill him. But there is something that comes in between…a dark secret…family allegiance.
It’s a powerful novel with a firm stance on wartime happenings. John’s character and family history was mesmerizing and later on it nudges the plot ahead. If Sonny represented hope, John painted what it is like to live in a world that discriminates on the basis of colour and other factors. Tragic and heartfelt! The novel will move anyone who has faith in humanity. In fact, its coverage of Europe caught in the world war is terrific; the novel tells us those dark secrets that are hardly known to this generation. It’s a superbly engaging novel by Peter Angus.
|The Asian Review Rating||9 out of 10|