I have a list of my top five favorite World War II novels, and E.R. Ramzipoor’s The Ventriloquists now counts among it.
The characters, some of whom were real people who dared to stand up to the Nazis and some who were created by the author, are deep, complex, and unique individuals who come together in a stunningly powerful way to make a statement when they know they are doomed no matter what.
Ramzipoor is able to use this sense of impending doom; the presence of the Nazis would be doom enough on it’s own, to give their characters a reason to speak up and act out. What else have they got to lose, really? And Aubrion, Noel, Lada, Gamin, Wellens, Spiegelman, and even the boys in the workhouses have nothing to lose. It’s clear they don’t really see themselves as having much to gain given, again, the fact that the Nazis are in Belgium.
So under the guise of their resistance movement, and as an ultimate act of resistance when they are conscripted to aid the Nazi propaganda movement, they create a newspaper that mocks the Nazis and their propaganda and pull off more than one ruse to manipulate the Nazis into helping them.
The Ventriloquists is in turn humorous and tragic. It is a story of hope in the face of certain defeat. It is the story of what humans can do for one another when it seems like the end is nigh.
(Thanks to NetGalley, Park Row, and E.R. Ramzipoor for the chance to read this book in exchange for an honest & original review.)
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