Results of the Los Angeles Times Book Prize in the year 2008.
A captivating page-turner that vividly evokes Saudi Arabian society and introduces an original new hero.
When sixteen-year-old Nouf goes missing and is found drowned in the desert outside Jeddah, Nayir—a desert guide hired by her prominent family to search for her—feels compelled to find out what really happened. Gentle, hulking, conscientious Nayir soon finds himself delving into the interior life of a wealthy, protected teenage girl in one of the most rigidly segregated of Middle Eastern societies. To gain access to the world of women, Nayir realizes he will have to join forces with Katya Hijazi, a lab technician at the coroner’s office and the fiancée of Nouf ’s brother. In the course of working with Katya and uncovering the mysteries of the dead girl’s mind, Nayir must confront his own desire for female companionship—and the limitations imposed by his beliefs. …[more]
This is a lyrical and profoundly moving story of love, loss and civil war, set in Sri Lanka, London and Venice.
When author, Theo Samarajeeva returns to his native Sri Lanka after his wife’s death, he hopes to escape his gnawing loss amidst the lush landscape of his increasingly war-torn country. But as he sinks into life in his beautiful, tortured land, he also finds himself slipping into friendship with an artistic young girl, Nulani, whose family is caught up in the growing turmoil—a friendship that gradually blossoms into love. Under the threat of civil war, their affair offers a glimmer of hope to a country on the brink of destruction!
But all too soon, the violence which has cast an ominous shadow over their love story explodes, tearing them apart. Betrayed, imprisoned and tortured, Theo is gradually stripped of everything he once held dear—his writing, his humanity and, eventually,…[more]
A mesmerizing portrait of 1950s hypocrisy and unexpected love, from a powerful new voice
It is 1957, and Lewis Aldridge, straight out of prison, is journeying back to his home in Waterford, a suburban town outside London. He is nineteen years old, and his return will have dramatic consequences not just for his family, but for the whole community.
A decade earlier, his father’s homecoming has a very different effect. The war is over and Gilbert has been demobilized. He reverts easily to suburban life—cocktails at six-thirty, church on Sundays—but his wife and young son resist the stuffy routine. Lewis and his mother escape to the woods for picnics, just as they did in wartime days. Nobody is surprised that Gilbert’s wife counters convention, but they are all shocked when, after one of their jaunts, Lewis comes back without her. …[more]
Uwem Akpan’s stunning stories humanize the perils of poverty and violence so piercingly that few readers will feel they’ve ever encountered Africa so immediately. The eight-year-old narrator of “An Ex-Mas Feast” needs only enough money to buy books and pay fees in order to attend school. Even when his twelve-year-old sister takes to the streets to raise these meager funds, his dream can’t be granted. Food comes first. His family lives in a street shanty in Nairobi, Kenya, but their way of both loving and taking advantage of each other strikes a universal chord.
In the second of his stories published in a New Yorker special fiction issue, Akpan takes us far beyond what we thought we knew about the tribal conflict in Rwanda. The story is told by a young girl, who, with her little brother, witnesses the worst possible scenario between parents. They are asked to do the previously unimaginable in order to protect their children. This…[more]
Born mute, speaking only in sign, Edgar Sawtelle leads an idyllic life with his parents on their farm in remote northern Wisconsin. For generations, the Sawtelles have raised and trained a fictional breed of dog whose thoughtful companionship is epitomized by Almondine, Edgar’s lifelong friend and ally. But with the unexpected return of Claude, Edgar’s paternal uncle, turmoil consumes the Sawtelles’ once peaceful home. When Edgar’s father dies suddenly, Claude insinuates himself into the life of the farm—and into Edgar’s mother’s affections.
Grief-stricken and bewildered, Edgar tries to prove Claude played a role in his father’s death, but his plan backfires—spectacularly. Forced to flee into the vast wilderness lying beyond the farm, Edgar comes of age in the wild, fighting for his survival and that of the three yearling dogs who follow him. But his need to face his father’s murderer and his devotion to the…[more]