Trudi Montag is a Zwerg, a dwarf. Born to a mentally disturbed woman who dies when Trudi is a small child, the girl reaches adulthood under the loving care of her father, a pay-librarian in a small German town. (A pay-librarian is one who runs a library as a business and charges the patrons to borrow books.) Trudi is angry, deeply resentful of her "differentness," and she uses her unique status in a variety of ways, both helpful and vengeful toward others.

For example, Trudi tells stories, some of which enchant and comfort frightened children during the war, others of which harm the lives and personal security of the townsfolk whom the story teller doesn't like. World War II comes and goes in Burgdorf; Trudi finds and loses romantic love; her father dies; and she begins, at the end of the tale, to reflect on the ways in which she has contributed to her own suffering and that of others.


This is a story about "otherness," in this case physical characteristics which everyone can see to be different. The dwarf child, who hangs by her arms from door casings to try to stimulate growth, speaks to the reader in her words, thoughts and actions, of the internal turmoil created by being the only "little person" in her town.

This novel is also a story about a community, a society of ordinary people interacting, loving, or hating one another--all told with annotation created by the keen perceptions of the dwarf. And, this is a work about World War II in Europe, told from the viewpoint of a non-Jewish, non-Nazi supporter, who is at some risk because of her dwarfism.


Stones from the River was nominated for a PEN/Faulkner award.


Simon & Schuster

Place Published

New York



Page Count