A unique and sweeping debut novel of an American female combat photographer in the Vietnam War, as she captures the wrenching chaos and finds herself torn between the love of two men.
On a stifling day in 1975, the North Vietnamese army is poised to roll into Saigon. As the fall of the city begins, two lovers make their way through the streets to escape to a new life. Helen Adams, an American photojournalist, must take leave of a war she is addicted to and a devastated country she has come to love. Linh, the Vietnamese man who loves her, must grapple with his own conflicted loyalties of heart and homeland. As they race to leave, they play out a drama of devotion and betrayal that spins them back through twelve war-torn years, beginning in the splendor of Angkor Wat, with their mentor, larger-than-life war correspondent Sam Darrow, once Helen's infuriating love and fiercest competitor, and Linh's secret keeper, boss and truest friend.
Tatjana Soli paints a searing portrait of an American womans struggle and triumph in Vietnam, a stirring canvas contrasting the wrenching horror of war and the treacherous narcotic of obsession with the redemptive power of love. Readers will be transfixed by this stunning novel of passion, duty and ambition among the ruins of war.
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"Ms. Soli has done prodigious research about the Vietnam War, particularly about the role of female war photographers, and so is able to imbue an otherwise deeply romantic book with a strong sense of history. She artfully uses Helens autodidactic approach to photography as a way of raising questions that her readers need to answer too. What is a war photographers mission? The book suggests that the job involves developing both a discerning eye (Sam is said to have birdlike movements, as if they allow him to look at things from many angles at once) and an analytic understanding of what the camera records." - The New York Times, Janet Maslin
"Starred Review. This is a visceral story about the powerful and complex bonds that war creates. It raises profound questions about professional and personal lives that are based on, and often dependent on, a nations horrific strife. Graphic but never gratuitous, the gripping, haunting narrative explores the complexity of violence, foreignness, even betrayal. Moving and memorable." - Kirkus Reviews
"This harrowing depiction of life and death shows that even as the country burned, love and hope triumphed." - Publishers Weekly
"Starred Review. Soli's poignant work will grab the attention of most readers. A powerful new writer to watch." - Library Journal
"If you have wondered what it's like to be a combat photographer and what kind of toll such brutal work exacts on the soul, you must read The Lotus Eaters, Tatjana Soli's beautiful and harrowing new novel. Its characters are unforgettable, as real as the historical events in which they're enmeshed." - Richard Russo, Pullitzer Prize-winning author of Empire Falls, Bridge of Sighs and That Old Cape Magic
"Set amid the twin infernos of Cambodia and Vietnam in the early 1970's, The Lotus Eaters draws the reader into a haunting world of war, betrayal, courage, obsession, and love. Tatjana Soli's spare, lucid prose infuses this novel with a dramatic clarity that makes us eyewitnesses to the collapse of two civilizations. More than that, The Lotus Eaters helps us to see and hear and feel the terrible human costs of that conflagration." - Tim O'Brien, author of The Things They Carried
"The very steam from Vietnam's jungles seems to rise from the pages of Tatjana Soli's tremendously evocative debut, a love story set in the hallucinatory atmosphere of war, described in translucent, fever-dream prose. " - Janice Y. K. Lee, author of The Piano Teacher
"The Lotus Eaters is a mesmerizing novel. Tatjana Soli takes on a monumental task by re-examining a heavily chronicled time and painting it with a lovely, fresh palette. The book is a true gift from a promising new writer." - Katie Crouch, author of Girls in Trucks and Men and Dogs
br> "Beautiful and harrowing, The Lotus Eaters explores the world of war, themes of love and loss, and the complicated question of what drives us toward the heroic with remarkable compassion and grace. Tatjana Soli's exquisite first novel is among the best I've read in years." - Meg Waite Clayton, author of The Wednesday Sisters
"A haunting story of the powers of love and war, the demands of history and desire, and the unforgettable people who seek, against overwhelming odds, a kind of redemption. A great read from a writer to watch." - Janet Peery, National Book Award Finalist for River Beyond the World
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Tatjana Soli is a novelist and short story writer. Her New York Times bestselling debut novel, The Lotus Eaters, was the winner of the James Tait Black Prize, a New York Times Notable Book, and a finalist for the LA Times Book Award. Her critically acclaimed second novel The Forgetting Tree was also a New York Times Notable book . Her stories have appeared in Zyzzyva, Boulevard, and The Sun, and have been listed in Best American Short Stories. She lives with her husband in Southern California.
Tatjana Soli: tat-YAH-na so-lee
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