This first-person omniscient POV story is about a Polish father who escaped the Nazis and a mother who escaped extreme poverty also in Poland. The story extends from grandparents' era up to the death of the father of the narrator. The parents end up in California with several children. Parts of the story, for me, read a bit like an outline while some sections having a lot of detail. For example, there are three paragraphs about the radio the father saved and moved all the way from Munich and a small plate he obtained in Copenhagen. Then some paragraphs feel like an outline for a novel chapter. For example, the paragraph that begins, "When my father was two years old, his father drove his horse and cart home from a New Year's Eve sylvestra at a neighboring farm."
These sentences are genius. "He is twenty, but in our kitchen, in the forest, he is sixteen, frozen in time at the age he was torn from bed. He throws himself on the forest floor, on the yellow linoleum. He rolls under the branches of a fir tree, under the legs of the table."
More Favorite Lines:
"So much depends on a new pair of shoes, my mother liked to say."
"When I was little I assumed that a scar like a lightning bolt could mean only one thing: my mother had been struck by lightning."
"He told me how he'd decided on my mother. He brought his brother to the train station and told my mother to walk a few paces ahead of them. 'Because,' he said, 'you wouldn't buy a horse without checking its legs first.'"
"Fatherland" was first published in Harvard Review and then included in the 2014 volume of The O'Henry Prize Stories.
Fiction Writers Review of Duraj's collection
Womens Quarterly Conversation with Duraj
download from Harvard Review for $3 a PDF of the story, "Fatherland" by Halina Duraj