As 1944 comes to a close, nine-year-old Raj is unaware of the war devastating the rest of the world. He lives in Mauritius, a remote island in the Indian Ocean, where survival is a daily struggle for his family. When a brutal beating lands Raj in the hospital of the prison camp where his father is a guard, he meets a mysterious boy his own age. David is a refugee, one of a group of Jewish exiles whose harrowing journey took them from Nazi-occupied Europe to Palestine, where they were refused entry and sent on to indefinite detainment in Mauritius.
A massive storm on the island leads to a breach of security at the camp, and David escapes, with Raj's help. After a few days spent hiding from Raj's cruel father, the two young boys flee into the forest. Danger, hunger, and malaria turn what at first seems like an adventure to Raj into an increasingly desperate mission.
This unforgettable and deeply moving novel sheds light on a fascinating and unexplored corner of World War II history, and establishes Nathacha Appanah as a significant international voice.
"Starred Review. Appanah's descriptions are meticulous, and the heartbreakingly endearing Raj makes for an unforgettable protagonist." - Publishers Weekly
"Many readers will enjoy this lushly beautiful child's-eye tale of resistance to injustice simply as a universal fable of two boys thrown together in friendship and solidarity against a savage adult world. It also half-reveals an extraordinary episode from the Second World War, but through a lyrical mist that never clears away." - The Independent (UK)
"In this lyrical and quietly moving work ... [Appanah] offers a lovely little gem of a meditation on how humans can love and, inexplicably, hate." - Library Journal
"In poetic, occasionally rapturous prose, the novel extends beyond the Holocaust in its attempt to encompass the human condition." - Kirkus
A disturbing and extraordinarily sensitive story around the tragic odyssey of Jewish refugees." - Le Monde (Paris)
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Nathacha Appanah, a French-Mauritian of Indian origin, was born in Mauritius and worked there as a journalist before moving to France in 1998. Geoffrey Strachan is the award-winning translator of Andreï Makine.
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