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A Mind of Winter, by Shira Nayman.

November 17, 2013

A Mind of Winter, by Shira Nayman.  Akashic Books (2012), Paperback, 332 pages

 A suspenseful and intelligent novel about individuals recreating themselves after WWII.

 Shira Nayman has written a novel full of mystery and misdirection.  The sections of the book focus on three individuals whose lives intersected as World War II was ending.  To varying degrees, all are in the process of constructing identities that hide something about their past.  Any attempt to compose a plot summary would inevitably result in spoilers and destroy the delicious slowness with which Nayman reveals who they have been.

 As a clinical psychologist, Nayman is adept at exploring the critical experiences that lie behind her characters’ ever-changing surfaces.  Individuals are full of contradictions as they simultaneously reveal and hide who they are.  The ambiguity of photography is a regular metaphor.   At times Nayman seems to be the total post-modernist viewing people simply as their own creations, but for her there is always something at the core, like war, that is indelible, unchanging, and intrinsic to a person’s identity.

While Nayman has written a well-constructed novel, one aspect of the novel troubled me.  I never really liked for the characters and was never drawn into the book emotionally, at least until the book was ending.  Instead of enjoying the book as I read it, I found myself enjoying it most as I pondered the ideas it presented.

 I recommend this book to readers who like their books to be mysterious and thought-provoking.

Thanks to Akashic Books for sending me a review copy of this book.

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