About the book
The novel opens in provincial Norway as Hans Olav and his wife, Mette, await the arrival of Zheljka and Mesud, refugees from the Bosnian war to whom they are offering accommodation. The troubled, childless daughter of Hungarian Jews who survived Auschwitz, Mette is pleased with their charitable gesture but more especially excited by the idea that Zheljka, of all people, will recognize that she too is a victim. Intensely private, tentatively trying to piece together their marriage after the war and horrendous cruelties have separated them, Zheljka and Mesud couldn't be less interested in bonding with their hosts. Before long, they leave.
Frustrated by Zheljka's aloofness, Mette becomes obsessed with her, pushing her again and again to talk about the war as though Zheljka had no life before it and nothing else to talk about. Eventually, Zheljka breaks and Mette learns how she had been gang raped repeatedly by soldiers, had fallen pregnant and given away her unwanted son - whom she named Zero - when he was four years old. When Mette intercepts a letter to Zheljka from Zero's adoptive father in Rome, she makes a decision that will alter the course of all of their lives.
With raw and beautiful simplicity, SUSAN SCHWARTZ SENSTAD explores from an utterly human perspective the psychological fallout in the aftermath of a racist war. Gripping from the first page, it is a chillingly important novel of our time and serves as an unforgettable reminder of why no war can be won.