The Price of Escape
NOVEL | 2011 | 280 pages
The Price of Escape depicts three days in the life of Samuel Berkow, a German Jew who leaves Nazi Germany by boat in 1938 to Guatemala where his cousin Heinrich awaits his arrival. As the tramp steamer approaches Puerto Barrios, Samuel is full of hope that he will be able to remake his life in the New World. But having spent the better part of the last fifteen years recovering from his injuries in the Great War, navigating between mismatched parents and pining for Lena, the wife who abandoned him, he is ill-equipped to grapple with the malicious, often sadistic, characters that inhabit a hot, seedy port town. From the moment he gets off the boat, Samuel falls victim to them. It's only when he commits an act he never thought he was capable of that he starts the slow journey to become the man he needs to be.
Part character study and part riveting narrative, The Price of Escape is its own mix of Kafka, Conrad, and Celine, as Samuel stumbles to get his footing in a hostile setting. But to do that, he must contend with Alfred Lewis, the coarse and unpredictable manager of the United Fruit Company; flying snakes, pet iguanas, and frogs whose saliva causes blindness; the cruel dwarf Mr. Price, whose sole purpose in life seems to be to mock Samuel; and the host of depraved creatures—petty thieves, liars, prostitutes, defrocked priests and anti-Semites—scheming to destroy him.
As The Price of Escape rushes to its dramatic climax when a crime is committed in a Chinese restaurant, and readers are left unsure if Samuel will prevail.
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