Jessica Winter of Slate reports on newly released book titles and the world of publishing in "The Book Reader."
In two powerful new novels, characters who have survived war and political turmoil try to make new lives for themselves, at the same time that they come to terms with their traumatic pasts.
In Juan Gabriel Vásquez's "The Sound of Things Falling," published by Riverhead, a chance encounter with a mysterious ex-convict leaves a young lawyer, Antonio, shot and gravely wounded on the streets of Bogotá in Colombia. As Antonio tries to piece together what happened to him, he is forced to reckon with his country's recent history, when Colombia's government fought a bloody war with Pablo Escobar's legendary drug cartel.
This gripping novel is a sort of fictional memoir of post-traumatic stress as experienced both by a single man and an entire nation. It's also full of fascinating real-life details, from the lavish zoo that Escobar funded with his drug profits to the secret role of the Peace Corps in narco-trafficking.
In Paul Yoon's "Snow Hunters," published by Simon & Schuster, a veteran of the Korean War named Yohan leaves his embattled country at the end of the conflict to start fresh on the Brazilian coast. There, he learns the language, masters a new trade and makes dear friends, but all the while, his memories of the war and its aftermath, and especially of a friend he left behind, keep tugging at him.
Poignant and exquisitely detailed, "Snow Hunters" offers a unique perspective on the legacy of a pivotal conflict that's so often called "the forgotten war."
For more reviews of new books, visit the Slate Book Review at slate.com/books.