Setting Free the Bears by John Irving
(Ballantine Reader's Circle)

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It is 1967 and two Viennese university students want to liberate the Vienna Zoo, as was done after World War II. But their good intentions have both comic and gruesome consequences, in this first novel written by a twenty-five year old John Irving, already a master storyteller.


About John Irving

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John Irving published his first novel at the age of twenty-six. He has received awards from the Rockefeller Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Guggenheim Foundation; he has won an O. Henry Award, a National Book Award, and an Academy Award.
Published June 1, 1969 by Random House. 304 pages
Genres: Literature & Fiction, Mystery, Thriller & Suspense, Science Fiction & Fantasy, History. Fiction

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The major portion consists of a journal addressed to Graft from Siegfried Javotnik, "Siggy," as he spends a long night in a Vienna zoo plotting out details for a "zoo bust."

Sep 26 2011 | Read Full Review of Setting Free the Bears (Balla...

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But Hannes carries on with an Austrian mädchen named Gallen, who is so cute that she calls her underpants "huggies," so Hannes calls his "hangies," so you can see he's no slouch at cuteness himself.) As intermissions for the great zoo burglary, Mr. Irving scatters chapters of the departed Si...

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Michael Manley 19 Aug 2013

Rated the book as 3 out of 5