An unlikely hero finds his humanity in this beautifully translated Dutch import.
Tortot is a talented field cook who travels with the army from battle to battle and from war to war. His fable-like story takes place in an unspecified time and place during the Great Wars, a period encompassing “seven ordinary wars, two civil wars, three revolutions and two counter-revolutions,” as well as the pivotal War of the Gherkins. Cunning and prickly, Tortot is said to have “the heart of a fish at the bottom of the ocean”; that is, until he meets George, a guileless young recruit who slowly but surely worms his way into Tortot’s cold heart. In an effort to save George’s life and get him out of the soul-crushing cycle of war, Tortot must devise a brilliant plan to end the ongoing War of the Gherkins once and for all. Each chapter (boasting amusing headings such as “In which Tortot barely manages to get his important work done, because someone keeps nagging him”) is accompanied by intricate pencil drawings that weave their way around the story. Author Lindelauf’s (Nine Open Arms, 2014) deadpan wit and absurdist satire shine in Watkinson’s masterful translation, combining to produce a thoroughly enjoyable, touching tale for all ages.
An irreverent fable that tells a timeless tale of war, friendship, and the redemptive power of love. (Fiction. 10-adult)