A love of the Greek people, despite what appears to be their often appalling wrongheadedness, is at the heart of this earthy novel, the author's first to be published in English. It traces the fate of the villagers of Ialos--from the richest peasant to the town fool--during the German occupation. Things go very badly for them, but they react with such magnificent or foolish gestures, with so much pride or piggishness, that the reader has, on almost every page, a choice between wincing or applauding, laughing or throwing the book down in despair. One is readily convinced that the author knew that town in childhood when everyone seems larger than life and the everyday swells to mythic proportions. In a foreword, Kallifatides, who emigrated to Sweden, says he had to wait until he had enough distance from the story to write it without prejudice, but not so much distance that he was a stranger to it. The wait was worth it. The translator, too, should be praised for his ability to turn the original Swedish into English so that it reads like a Greek that, magically, has become our native tongue.