A collaborative project of Flower Memorial Library, Jefferson Community College and North Country Public Radio

Shared Reading,
Shared Conversation,
Shared Community

A one-community, one-book project for the North Country

The Book
The Author
The Story
Events Calendar
In the News
About NCReads

Past Selections


Praise for Skeletons at the Feast

"Immensely readable...Bohjalian takes a fresh perspective and details the brutal realities of World War II in a novel that for once does not focus entirely on the Allies. Recommended for fiction collections."
Library Journal

"Reading Bohjalian's descriptions of terror and tragedy on the road has just as much impact as seeing newsreels from the end of World War II. . .While creating suspense, Bohjalian agilely balances the moral ambiguities of war." (To read the full review, click here.)" Full review.
Dennis Moore, USA Today

"Rich in character and gorgeous writing."
Jodi Picoult, Real Simple

"Sheer storytelling. . .an epic romance. . . Bohjalian is especially good at conveying the surreal 'beauty,' the misshapen lyricism, of the war-torn landscape . . . From harrowing to inspiring."
Kirkus Reviews

"Carefully researched detail and an unflinching eye . . . Bohjalian's well-chosen descriptions capture the anguish of a tragic era and the dehumanizing desolation wrought by war."
Publishers Weekly

"This story mixes the nail-biting brutality of The Kite Runner with the emotional intimacy of Anne Frank's diary."
Denise Gamino, Austin American-Statesman

"Bohjalian demonstrates an intricate historical knowledge and impressively illustrates the stark horrors of the time...A compelling read with its mix of history, romance and portrayals of strength in the midst of severe adversity: War really is hell, the book says, but the human spirit is ultimately salvageable."
Rebecca Stropoli, Bookpage

The 2008 North Country Reads Selection:
About Skeletons at the Feast
by Chris Bohjalian

A Today Show Pick as a Top Ten Summer Read:

"Bohjalian is another favorite author of mine. This is the perfect novel for a book club because there's so much to discuss. The story is set in World War II and follows a group of German refugees as they flee their homeland. Normally, I'm not a big fan of historical fiction, but this book sucked me right in. It opens with a young girl who's trying to get across a frozen river with her family, but enemy soldiers are bombing the ice to keep people from crossing. It's vivid and heart-wrenching. One interesting sidenote: The author was inspired to write this book when someone gave him an unpublished diary of a Prussian woman who fled west in 1945," said John Searles on the show. Searles is the author of Strange but True and Boy Still Missing and the book editor at Cosmopolitan.

"Harrowing. . .Bohjalian spins a suspenseful tale in which the plot triumphs over any single sorrow. . .[His] sense of character and place, his skillful plotting and his clear grasp of this confusing period of history make for a deeply satisfying novel, one that asks readers to consider, and reconsider, how they would rise to the challenge of terrible deprivation and agonizing moral choices." Full review.
Margot Livesey, The Washington Post Book World

"A bittersweet story of romance, war and death, inspired in part by a real diary. . .Strongly dramatic and full of the heartbreaking horror of war, this novel is Bohjalian at his imaginative best."
Carole Goldberg, The Hartford Courant

"A poignant account of the conflict's last year. . .Harrowing. . .In creating the Emmerichs and their relationship to Uri, Bohjalian has given us something new and disturbing. He has also created a wonderful character in the protected child, Theo, whose gradual understanding of what is happening to them is moving and real. . .Bohjalian has given us an important addition to the story of World War II, and, not at all incidentally, may expand the vision of those who may have avoided 'Holocaust literature' in the past."
Roberta Silman, The Boston Globe

"Harrowing. . .ingenious. . .compelling. . .Judging who's right or wrong is difficult in Skeletons at the Feast, and one senses that's just the way Bohjalian wants it. . .A tightly woven, moving story for anyone who thinks there's nothing left to learn, or feel, about the Second World War. That Bohjalian can extract greater truths about faith, hope and compassion from something as mundane as a diary is testament not only to his skill as a writer but also to the enduring ability of well-written war fiction to stir our deepest emotions."
Paula L. Woods, Los Angeles Times

"Once in a while a novel comes along that crawls into your soul from the first page and won't let go, even long after you've read the final word. Your perspective is changed; you've been transported to another place and time. Skeletons at the Feast is such a novel. . .Definitely a keeper, this book is very highly recommended."
Tamela McCann, Historical Novels Review (Editor's Choice)

"Bohjalian's Skeletons at the Feast is a deftly crafted and empathetically woven novel of survival and hope."
Andy Turpine, The Armenian Weekly

"Intense and fascinating. . .Bohjalian masterfully presents the desperation of troops who realize their cause is doomed.. . .He successfully captures the humanity of one of the 20th century's most horrendous tragedies."
Jennie Camp, Rocky Mountain Times

"An extraordinary historical novel based on the exodus of Germans in eastern Germany escaping the Soviet Army's advance in the waning days of World War II. . . A sense of justice pervades all of [Bohjalian's'] books. He demands that we act humanely toward one another and understand and respect others' beliefs and values. . .Skeletons at the Feast is not a screed on good vs. evil, but it does inspire thought on man's inhumanity to man, and, conversely, how individuals overcome adversity with acts of kindness, civility and integrity,"
Myrna Lippman, Ft. Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel

"Nail-biting, heart-ripping. . .truly brilliant. The reader of Skeletons at the Feast is quietly checkmated by Bohjalian into a radical compassion we've heard somewhere before: Love Thy Enemy . . . I loved this unforgettable novel." (To read the full review, click here.)"
Tom Paine, The Burlington Free Press

"Riveting. . .an unforgettable finale. . .Chris Bohjalian handles the context of this story effortlessly and has created characters so engaging that any reader will find themselves connecting with these very real people.. . .I hail Bohjalian's new novel and its fearless account of one of the greatest tragedies of the 20th century."
Ray Palen, Bookreporter

"A deeply moving and engrossing novel. . .Bohjalian has created a microcosm of that devastating winter of 1945. . . he makes us care deeply for his characters. His terse, dry prose renders the most appalling atrocities in an almost stoic manner, doubling the emotional impact."
St. Louis Post-Dispatch

"Skeletons at the Feast is a prime example of a well-written historical fiction. Readers will feel the despair experienced by the characters but will be able to find the bit of hope that keeps them moving forward. Bohjalian provides a vivid and well-researched look at the horrors experienced by the characters and presents a more personal account of anguish caused by the events of World War II."
Courtney Holschuh, The Huntington, W.V. Herald-Dispatch

"A lush romance, reflecting resilience in the face of nearly certain tragedy....a trenchant epic that is both agonizing and enriching."
Air Tran Magazine

"Chris Bohjalian has written his finest novel to date, set against the brutal, waning days of World War Two in Eastern Germany....Skeletons at the Feast is Bohjalian's masterpiece. The power of the narrative will stay with the reader long after it is put down. Inspired by an actual World War II diary the author read, it will stand as one of the best novels ever written about one of the most brutal periods in history."
Marvin Minkler, The North Star Monthly

"A fictional tale of love, violence and redemption. . . Bohjalian deftly moves from the journey to the back stories of each character, fleshing out their histories and making their choices more poignant as their friendship and interdependence develop. Who will live and who will die? The author keeps up the suspense until the last page, with a surprise twist at the end."
Capital Living Magazine

We thank Chris Bohjalian and Random House for their kind sharing of content for these web pages.

© 2008 North Country Reads, Flower Memorial Library, 229 Washington St., Watertown, NY 13601
email ncreads@ncpr.org • phone: 315-788-2352 • Return to Page Top