Book Reviews,  Europe,  FICTION,  History,  Memoir/Biography

The Sojourn by Andrew Krivak *** (of 5)

Jozef Ondrej is taken by his father as an infant, after his mother dies, to the mountains of central Europe on the eve of the First World War.  After his father has raised him to be a shepherd with expertise in managing himself alone in the forest with nothing more than a rifle, Jozef enlists in the Emperor’s army to defend the Austro-Hungarian empire.  Appointed as a sniper, he hikes for days through the Ruso-Carpathian mountains picking off Italian soldiers with expert marksmanship and mechanical indifference.  He hikes some more and fights on the front lines.  He is captured and walked and entrained to a prison camp on Sardinia and when he is released he walks home, pausing to engage a relationship with a largely silent, but very pregnant, gypsy girl.  His sojourn, the book’s title, is more mileage, than mental or spiritual so we discover countries and perspectives on World War I that never occurred to us, but in the end we have covered so many miles that we too are just tired, but never really have gotten inside of Josef’s head.