4 out of 4 stars
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If you want to study the impressions of history, good or bad, on mankind, in a light and enjoyable manner, you should read the historical fictionThe dancing Barber, by AC Michael. The story focuses on the role of intelligentsia as well as the peasant class in the formation of society.
The story is based on the historical event of the death of seven million peasants in Ukraine, due to the famine caused by Stalin’s policy of collective ownership and further death of seven million, due to liquidation, i.e, being wound up and having assets apportioned, of the intelligentsia. Klem, an intellectual, searches the truth behind the occurance and finds evidences against all propaganda to hide it. He lives in Taras’s attic, who is a day-time barber and night-time ballet master, involved in the working for the success of his performance of ‘Swan Lake’ programme. His wife Halyna is a friend of Klem, and daughter Sophia loves and respects him more than her own father. Sophia with her friends Oksana and Natalka are the main students of dance group.
All the main characters of the story are the sufferers of The Great Famine. The story proceeds as they fight against the anti social elements of the society. Will Taras be able to find a meaning to life and get recognition? Will the guilty responsible for their plight be punished? The plot of ballet dance performance, as well as the food description of the day-to-day living appear symbolic to me in the story. The book seems to be a part of history when art and culture flourish and reach their culmination. The quotations from Bible made contextful to the comic scenes of the book provide the reader with a desirable reading content.
I admire the author’s sensitivity towards the life of an artist and the intelligentsia in structuring the society. I like the character of Taras, when he says to Klem, ”I happen to like my life the way it is.”. I also like the character of Klem as a poet, with his cat. The character of Uncle Victor as a peasant is remarkable, who is one of the worst sufferers of the genocide. The purpose of pure entertainment has not been overlooked in the book. The book has as delicate a theme a 'In The Fullness of Time’, by Katherine P. Stillerman and is as sweet a lore as ‘The Royal Secret’ by John Bentley. Yet another example of the healing touch of history! The book has done justice to my growing awareness of the worldwide affairs and I feel more informed and concerned towards them. The duo of Taras as ballet master and daughter Sophia as ‘prima ballerina’, humbly contributed to a domestic approach towards professional life, for me.
Many words in the book may seem alien to the readers of varied cultures. Providing a short appendix explaining the meanings of such words, might give the book a wider appeal. I didn’t find any mistakes in grammar all throughout my read and also I am not a perfectionist regarding this. The book has all the elements of literature, including espionage. I suggest the book to all readers who have entered a phase of maturity in life and are now discovering something worthwhile. I rate it 4 out of 4 stars for such an unmistakable choice of the theme of the book!
The Dancing Barber
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