Thursday, January 05, 2006

For February: Harbor

Administrative Note: We've swapped our February and March titles in order to allow more time to obtain copies of "A Death in Brazil."

Here is a description of our February title, Harbor by Lorraine Adams.

A powerful first novel that engages the tumultuous events of today: at once an intimate portrait of a group of young Arab Muslims living in the United States, and the story of one man's journey into–and out of–violence.
We first meet Aziz Arkoun as a 24-year-old stowaway–frozen, hungry, his perceptions jammed by a language he can't understand or speak. After 52 days in the hold of a tanker from Algeria, he jumps into the icy waters of Boston harbor and swims to shore. Seemingly rescued from isolation by Algerians he knew as a child, he instead finds himself in a world of disillusionment, duplicity, and stolen identities, living a raw comedy of daily survival not unlike what he fled back home.

As the story of Aziz and his friends unfolds–moving from the hardscrabble neighborhoods of East Boston and Brooklyn to a North African army camp–Harbor makes vivid the ambiguities of these men's past and present lives: burying a murdered girl in the Sahara; reading medieval Persian poetry on a bus, passing for Mexican; shoplifting Versace for clubbing, succumbing to sex in a public library; impersonating a double agent. But when Aziz begins to suspect that he and his friends are under surveillance, all assumptions–his and ours–dissolve in an urgent, mesmerizing complexity.

And as Harbor races to its explosive conclusion, it compels us to question the questions it raises: Who are the terrorists? Can we recognize them? How do they live?
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