by Denise Giardina
Giardina surpasses herself with this powerful re-creation of the life and martyrdom of German pastor and theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer, who participated in a plot to kill Hitler and was executed at Buchenwald in the waning days of the war. In a crisp, flexible style that skillfully alternates past and present tense, Giardina creates a compelling image of one of the century's authentic heroes. Excitingly dramatic, with a dozen or more passionate exchanges in which the fate of civilization and the responsibilities of citizens are memorably debated.
What is the price of acting morally in a time of great evil, when sin and necessity seem twinned? Saints and Villains is a strikingly resonant novel that dramatizes this painful dilemma through the fictional re-creation of the life of Dietrich Bonhoeffer. This emblematic figure risked his life--and finally lost it--through his participation in the failed plot to assassinate Hitler and topple the Nazi regime. In a gripping and sweeping narrative that moves from Berlin to London to New York City, encompassing shattering historical events, clandestine meetings, perilous missions abroad, and eventual imprisonments and death, Denise Giardina brings to life an instance of shining courage in the charnel house that was Europe in the Second World War. A novel that is bold in conception and utterly convincing in its powers of fictional re-creation--a literary event.
"High drama . . . Stirring adventure . . . To find a historical figure like Dietrich Bonhoeffer packaged in what is essentially a moral thriller is a surprising joy." --The Boston Globe
"A SPLENDID NOVEL ABOUT A SPLENDID MAN . . . In the pantheon of heroes of this fading century, few are more deserving of residency than [Dietrich] Bonhoeffer." --Philadelphia Inquirer
"COMPELLING . . . The story is engrossingly narrated, with an eye for significant detail, a strong sense of life's bitter ironies and a powerful feeling of immediacy. . . . The Bonhoeffer depicted in this novel is a convincing blend of high-mindedness and self-doubt, an austere yet vulnerable man, naive and unworldly in some respects, but able to see far more deeply than many of his contemporaries into the illness and evil of his time." --Newsdayï¾
About the author:
Denise Giardina was born October 25, 1951 in Bluefield, West Virginia, and grew up in the small coal mining camp of Black Wolf, located in rural McDowell County, West Virginia. Like the rest of the community, her family's survival was dependent upon the prosperity of the mine. Giardina's grandfather and uncles worked underground and her father kept the books for Page Coal and Coke. Her family lived in Black Wolf until she was thirteen, when the mine closed. In order to find work, her family moved to the state capital of Charleston.
Giardina received a Bachelor's degree from West Virginia Wesleyan College in 1973. She pursued graduate work at Marshall University in Huntington, West Virginia, later receiving a Masters in Divinity from the Virginia Theological Seminary in Alexandria, Virginia in 1979. In 1980 she decided against ordination in favor of pursuing a career in writing. In order to fund this career choice, Denise Giardina did secretarial work during the day so she could write in the evenings. Giardina currently lives near Charleston and teaches at West Virginia State University. In 2007 she was reinstated as an ordained deacon in the Episcopal Church
Her book Storming Heaven was a Discovery Selection of the Book-of-the-Month Club and received the 1987 W. D. Weatherford Award for the best published work about the Appalachian South. The Unquiet Earth received an American Book Award and the Lillian Smith Book Award for fiction. Her 1998 novel Saints and Villains was awarded the Boston Book Review fiction prize and was semifinalist for the International Dublin Literary Award.