Thursday, August 16, 2012

What is Stephen Dau reading?

The current featured contributor at Writers Read: Stephen Dau, author of The Book of Jonas.

His entry begins:
With a three-year-old to look after, I basically have the choice to either read or write, and for now, writing feels like the more productive option. That said, I have managed to read two novels during the past couple of months, both of which I loved.

I will read anything Michael Ondaatje writes. If he took a job writing lists of ingredients on boxed cereals, I would read them. And reading The Cat's Table is far, far better than reading cereal ingredients. He has described it as a novel with "the colouring and locations of memoir and autobiography." It has sort of a long, slow plot arc that describes an ocean voyage the protagonist, Michael, makes from Sri Lanka to England in the nineteen fifties, and that voyage's impact on him and his fellow passengers. It features Ondaatje's typically gorgeous language and some deft humor (one passenger is overheard asking another, "But how can it be both a laxative and an aphrodisiac?") and some wonderfully rendered coming-of-age sections that...[read on]
About The Book of Jonas, from the publisher:
An exceptional debut 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.

Jonas is fifteen when his family is killed during an errant U.S. military operation in an unnamed Muslim country. With the help of an international relief organization, he is sent to America, where he struggles to assimilate-foster family, school, a first love. Eventually, he tells a court-mandated counselor and therapist about a U.S. soldier, Christopher Henderson, responsible for saving his life on the tragic night in question. Christopher's mother, Rose, has dedicated her life to finding out what really happened to her son, who disappeared after the raid in which Jonas' village was destroyed. When Jonas meets Rose, a shocking and painful secret gradually surfaces from the past, and builds to a shattering conclusion that haunts long after the final page. Told in spare, evocative prose, The Book of Jonas is about memory, about the terrible choices made during war, and about what happens when foreign disaster appears at our own doorstep. It is a rare and virtuosic novel from an exciting new writer to watch.
Learn more about the book and author at Stephen Dau's website.

The Page 69 Test: The Book of Jonas.

Writers Read: Stephen Dau.

--Marshal Zeringue