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(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

Nicholas Tarabas, a Russian peasant, is thrust into a maelstrom of events that lead him to curse his life. When he was young, he had been told by a gypsy that his destiny was to be both murderer and saint. He becomes involved in a revolutionary group in Russia prior to World War I and is forced by his father to leave his homeland after a bombing incident, though a court found Tarabas not responsible. Not long after arriving in the alien world of New York, Tarabas kills a man while in a jealous rage, and again he must flee.

World War I has begun, and Tarabas joins the Russian army. He returns home to a cold reception from his family. The army becomes his sole purpose for living. Achieving the rank of a colonel, Tarabas terrorizes the people of the town where he is stationed, especially those who are Jewish. At intervals throughout the book, he remembers the gypsy’s predictions: He has proved himself to be a murderer; when will he become saintly?

The last part of the novel follows Tarabas after the war, after the Russian Revolution, back to the...

(The entire section is 385 words.)