Chasing the King of Hearts seems like a title for a romantic comedy, not a novel about life in Poland during World War II. But Hanna Krall is not your average writer. The Polish author survived the Holocaust as a four-year-old, and she has both a poet's eye for detail and the ability to couch a story of love with the horror of Poland's occupation, leavening her tale with unexpected bursts of dark humor spiked by the insanity of the war. Izolda falls for Shayek and marries him, only to lose him to the camps. She doesn't know if he's still alive, much less if she will live to rescue him (her initial plan) or mourn him. The world spirals out of control, but men and women still flirt even as they worry about their missing teeth and murdered relatives. Prolific translator Philip Boehm (also the artistic director of St. Louis' own Upstream Theater) has been praised for his "glorious translation" of Krall's novel, which finally reached American shores this year. Boehm reads from and signs copies of Chasing the King of Hearts at 6:30 p.m. this evening at Subterranean Books (6275 Delmar Boulevard, University City; www.subbooks.com). Admission is free.
Price: free admission