How can you say goodbye forever when you've left an important secret unspoken?
"I'll tell you what I'm going to do," Zoltan said. "When I die, I'll leave my luck to you."
Zoltan Beck is dying. His devoted but long-suffering sons, Ben and Frank, are trying to prepare themselves and their families for Zoltan's eventual departure...but they can't quite bring themselves to believe that the end is really at hand, and neither can Zoltan himself. The head of a family marked by war and tragedy for decades, he "can't stand to be in a room with a miserable person" and has done his best to keep the pain of his refugee past from his beloved children. But as he faces the end of his life, he discovers a heartbreaking secret from the War that will ultimately bring the family together--or irrevocably disrupt it. Set in both mid-20th century Hungary and contemporary Toronto, this is a deeply moving novel that revels in the energy of its extraordinary characters. It is the story of lost love and newfound connections, of a father and his sons desperately reaching out to bridge an ever-widening gap...even as their time together ebbs away.
JOSEPH KERTES was born in Hungary but escaped with his family to Canada after the revolution of 1956. His first novel, Winter Tulips, won the Stephen Leacock Award for Humour. His third novel, Gratitude, won a Canadian Jewish Book Award and the US National Jewish Book Award for Fiction, and both it and his fourth, The Afterlife of Stars, garnered extraordinary critical acclaim. Kertes founded Humber College's distinguished creative writing and comedy programs.
Longlisted for the 2020 Toronto Book Awards
Praise for Last Impressions:
"The great achievement of this novel is that the comedy of the present day story is deepened and darkened by the vein of history flowing beneath it, a history of lost loves and lost lives. Last Impressions will make you laugh out loud and cry out loud. What more could be asked of a book?"
—Miriam Toews, award-winning author of Women Talking, A Complicated Kindness, and All My Puny Sorrows
"Joe Kertes knows of what he writes, and it shines through pristine prose on every page of this moving and thoughtful novel. By turns hilarious and heartbreaking, the story’s vivid and memorable characters wrestle with history, secrets, and shadows that simultaneously strain and sustain a family. Brilliant and masterful."
—Terry Fallis, two-time winner of the Stephen Leacock Medal for Humour
"The patriarch Zoltan looms off the page, larger than life and yet heart-breakingly human. Last Impressions is a testament to the ordinary miracle of family and friendship, of loves lost and loves gained, of secrets concealed and hopes restored, set against the sweep of history, at once epic and intimate."
—Giller Prize-winning author Will Ferguson
"I finished Joe Kertes’s dark comedy, Last Impressions, and booked a trip to Hungary, so vivid and engrossing is Mr. Kertes’s creation of the Beck Family and their visit back to their father’s past. Cantankerous, unwavering, iron-willed, preposterously hilarious, Zoltan Beck is a protagonist for the ages. Stop streaming and start binging on this unputdownable book."
—Andrea Martin, award-winning actor
"A funny and moving book about a family mystery and the mysteries of family."
—David Bezmozgis, award-winning author of Immigrant City and The Betrayers
"Zoltan’s hilarious and heartbreaking story is a satisfying blend of matters domestic and historical."
"Kertes is successfully navigating treacherous waters here with a novel that, for all its moments of darkness, emerges as passionately life-affirming and at times unrepentantly hilarious."