Planes: Book summary and reviews of Planes by Peter C Baker

Planes

A novel

by Peter C Baker

Planes by Peter C Baker X
Planes by Peter C Baker
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About this book

Book Summary

An urgent, fiercely intelligent debut novel about "two couples, an ocean apart - one wounded by a war crime, the other just starting to reckon with being implicated in it...An insightful book about the slow, zigzag work of healing that nonetheless moves at the speed of a thriller" (Caleb Crain, author of Necessary Errors).

For years, Amira—a recent convert to Islam living in Rome—has gone to work, said her prayers, and struggled to piece together her husband's redacted letters from the Moroccan black site where he is imprisoned. She moves as inconspicuously as possible through her modest life, doing her best to avoid the whispered curiosity of her community.

Meanwhile, Mel—once an activist—is trying to get the suburban conservatives of her small North Carolina town to support her school board initiatives, and struggles to fill her empty nest. It's a steady, settled life, except perhaps for the affair she can't admit she's having.

As these narratives unfurl thousands of miles apart, they begin to resonate like the two sides of a tuning fork. And when Mel learns that a local charter airline serves as a front for the CIA's extraordinary renditions—including that of Amira's husband—both women face wrenching questions that will shape the rest of their lives.

Written with piercing insight and artistry, Planes is a singular, assured, and indelible first novel that announces a major new voice.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Inspired by the North Carolina Stop Torture Now coalition, Baker's arresting debut charts the effects of rendition on an Italian Muslim convert and an American former anti-war activist...Baker masterly juggles the two concurrent story lines...Along the way, the author digs deep into the nuances of love, pain, betrayal, and the promise of deliverance. This moving debut buzzes with relevance." - Publishers Weekly (starred review)

"This affecting debut examines the impact of rendition and torture in two different cultures...A thoughtful look at the small-scale fallout of an international issue." - Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

"Beautifully written...Assured...A tale that unfurls like a thriller." - Booklist

"How do you come home from an atrocity? Peter C. Baker's absorbing, closely observed novel follows two couples, an ocean apart—one wounded by a war crime, the other just starting to reckon with being implicated in it—as they try to find a way to live in the aftermath. Baker's offbeat, suggestive strategy is to let the stories intertwine, so that subtle resonances emerge: variations on the themes of patience, misdirection, forgiveness, and exasperation that play in every marriage. Planes is an insightful book about the slow, zigzag work of healing that nonetheless moves at the speed of a thriller." - Caleb Crain, author of Necessary Errors

"Peter Baker is that rare confident novelist with the most delicate touch. With his twin dramas unfolding on separate planes in Rome and in North Carolina, he shows us that the invisible network connecting everyone can be just as much impersonal actions taken by Washington as intimate domestic secrets that go unshared. Baker has the eye of a seasoned journalist and the ear of a poet; I can't wait to be absorbed in whatever he writes next." - Sandi Tan, author of Lurkers and director of Shirkers

This information about Planes was first featured in "The BookBrowse Review" - BookBrowse's membership magazine, and in our weekly "Publishing This Week" newsletter. Publication information is for the USA, and (unless stated otherwise) represents the first print edition. The reviews are necessarily limited to those that were available to us ahead of publication. If you are the publisher or author and feel that they do not properly reflect the range of media opinion now available, send us a message with the mainstream reviews that you would like to see added.

Any "Author Information" displayed below reflects the author's biography at the time this particular book was published.

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More Information

Peter C. Baker's essays, criticism, reportage, and fiction have been published in the New Yorker, the New York Review of Books, the Guardian, the New York Times Magazine, the Nation, the Times Literary Supplement, and Granta. He lives in Evanston, Illinois.

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