Thursday, March 15, 2012

Great Beginnings: The Book of Jonas by Stephen Dau

When I woke up this morning, I discovered the Kindle elves had dropped another gift on my device: Stephen Dau's debut novel The Book of Jonas.  I'd pre-ordered it a few weeks ago and looked forward to the day when it would arrive.  According to the compact synopsis at Amazon, The Book of Jonas is a novel about "a young Muslim war orphan whose family is killed in a military operation gone wrong, and the American soldier to whom his fate, and survival, is bound."  I'm backlogged with reading assignments right now, so I don't know how soon I'll be able to sink into it, but I promise a full review once I do.  For now, I give you the unforgettable opening paragraphs:
      They arrived like a thought, tracing contrails across the deep sky as though writing out their intentions in letters too big to be fully seen from the earth. Or they flowed low and fast over the hills, their great machines arcing silently from horizon to horizon, so fast that they were there and gone before the roar from their engines caught up, screaming the news of their arrival even as they disappeared.
      In the village they tried to make sense of it.
      The imam said that the Americans were like the lion who had stepped on a thorn and then went about making a great noise, roaring at the world from his pain. But it would soon pass, he said, when the thorn dried up and fell out, when the pain ebbed, and then tranquility would be restored.

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