A scientist stealing across the Pyrenees into Spain, then smuggled into America . . .
A young woman quarantined on a ship wandering the Atlantic, her family stranded in Austria . . .
A girl playing on a riverbank as a solitary airplane appears on the horizon . . .
Lives already in motion, unsettled by war, and about to change beyond reckoning—their pasts blurred and their destinies at once defined and distorted by an inconceivable event. For that man was bound for the desert of Los Alamos, the woman unexpectedly en route to a refugee camp, the girl at Ground Zero and that plane the Enola Gay. In August of 1945, in a blinding flash, Hiroshima sees the dawning of the modern age.
With these three people, Dennis Bock transforms a familiar story—the atom bomb as a means to end worldwide slaughter—into something witnessed, as if for the first time, in all its beautiful and terrible power. Destroyer of Worlds. With Anton and Sophie and Emiko, with the complete arc of their histories and hopes, convictions and regrets, The Ash Garden is intricate yet far-reaching: from market streets in Japan to German universities, from New York tenements to, ultimately, a peaceful village in Ontario. Revealed here, as their fates triangulate, are the true costs and implications of a nightmare that has persisted for more than half a century.
In its reserves of passion and wisdom, in its grasp of pain and memory, in its balance of ambition and humanity, this first novel is an astonishing triumph.