Edith Gruson , Gerard Hadders , ProArtsDesign
Andrzej Zaniewski, Rat
Mai Spijkers, Uitgeverij Prometheus

The protagonist of this tense, imaginative novel is a rat who narrates his life story from birth to death. The enterprising rodent roams alleys and garbage dumps, lives in a bakery cellar, hops a train to a coastal town, boards a ship and lands in a besieged city at war, where missiles explode; later, he meets a cruel fate at the hands of humans. His is a life of constant fear, hunting and foraging, beset by dangers—cats, traps, cars, other rats and, above all, people, ``our greatest enemies.’’ In relating this saga of struggles and wanderings, Polish poet and teacher Zaniewski aims to enlist sympathy for rats and to expose human arrogance and cruelty, especially toward animals. None of the rodent or human characters have names but, for the most part, monotony is avoided as the author casts his rats as sentient, complex, emotional beings without seeming to anthropomorphize them. Zaniewski brings uncanny insight, empathy and respect for all animals—rodent and human—to this literate, strangely appealing fable. 25,000 first printing.