I am including this book in my Historical Fiction Reading Challenge.
From the cover:
From the civil rights struggle in the United States to the Nazi crimes against humanity in Europe, there are more stories than people passing each other every day on the bustling streets of every crowded city. Only some survive to become history.
Recently released from prison, Lamont Williams, an African American probationary janitor in a Manhattan hospital and father of a little girl he can’t locate, strikes up an unlikely friendship with an elderly patient, a Holocaust survivor who had been a prisoner in Auschwitz- Birkenau.
A few kilometeres uptown, Australian historian Adam Zignelik, an untenured Columia professor, finds both his career and his long-term romantic relationship falling apart. Emerging out of the depths of his own personal history, Adam sees, in a promising research topic suggested by an American World War II veteran, the beginnings of something that might just save him professionally and perhaps even personally,
As these two men try to survive in early twenty-first -century New York, history comes to life in ways neither of them could have foreseen. Two very different paths – Lamont’s and Adam’s – lead to one greater story as The Street Sweeper, in dealing with memory, love, guilt, heroism, the extremes of recism and unexpected kindness, spans the twentieth century to the present and spans the globe from New York to Melbourne, Chicago to Auschwitz.
Epic in scope, this is a remarkable feat ot storytelling.
I was blown away by this story even though I felt the plot was too contrived. The chance of the links between the various characters at times stretched believability but apart from that it was an amazing story. The story is set in the present but much of the action is set in the past.
I learnt a great deal about racism in America and during World War II from this novel and it is a book that you should certainly read if you get the chance.
“Tell everyone what happened here.”
To read an excellent review of the book click here.
You can also listen to an interview with the author on Radio National The Book Show.