The Past Never Sleeps

Esa Khattak and Rachel Getty are partners in the Community Policing Section of the Canadian Police, theunquietdeada special division that handles cases that might affect minority communities. They are surprised when they are called to a beautiful lake-side home where a man appears to have simply fallen to his death.

As the case builds, Esa and Rachel realize there is nothing simple about this crime, or about the way we deal with the past. With flashbacks to Bosnia during genocide, this book is a deep look at revenge, forgiveness, community, and family.

Ausma Zehanat Khan has created complex characters and a gritty, multi-layered mystery that spans the globe and time. A wonderful debut, this the first in a series of three mysteries with Esa and Rachel. The third novel in this series will be available February 14, 2017.

Ausma graciously agreed to answer some questions for me here at Book Club Advisor.

You’ve mentioned this in other interviews, but do you mind briefly telling my readers about the inspiration for this book?

The Unquiet Dead arose out of research I had done for my dissertation on military intervention and war crimes in the Balkans. I’d studied the Bosnian genocide for many years, and I felt the tragedy of it was slipping away without any of its lessons being learned. I wanted to tell a story that reflected the criminality of the genocide, and the unimaginable loss. There’s a line in The Unquiet Dead: “how quickly the violent ideals of ultra-nationalism led to hate, how quickly hate to blood.” I think that’s a lesson for us now. Continue reading “The Past Never Sleeps”

The Drug of Amnesia

the-angel-of-history“AIDS was a river with no bed that ran soundlessly and inexorably through my life, flooded everything, drowned all I knew, soaked my soul, but then a soaking, a drenching, was not dying, and I swam, floated when I could, and I though I had triumphed, only to discover years later that the river’s persistence, its restlessness, trickled into tiny rivulets that reach every remote corner of my being…” p. 182 Continue reading “The Drug of Amnesia”

Tragedy, Connection, and Hope

the-memory-of-thingsBook Club Advisor welcomes author, Gae Polisner, for a video interview on the power of literature, how The Memory of Things was created, and the impact of a national tragedy on a generation. (Scroll down for vlog clips with the author.)

It is the morning of September 11, 2001. Kyle is sixteen years old and his world is crumbling in front of him. From his high school in downtown Manhattan, Kyle watches the first Twin Tower fall and runs back home to Brooklyn as chaos descends. On the way, he finds a beautiful girl covered in ash and wearing costume wings, a girl who appears ready to jump from the bridge. He convinces her to come home with him to safety. Kyle feels lost and frightened, responsible for his uncle who needs medical care with the nurse unable to come due to the city being at a standstill. Kyle’s father is a first-responder at the scene and Kyle’s worry for him is palpable. When the story begins, Kyle only knows that his mother and sister are on a plane back from California. He cannot remember which flight or what time and fears for their lives. Kyle and the girl are both lost in grief and fear. Continue reading “Tragedy, Connection, and Hope”

Balancing on the Edge

eowyn-iveyEowyn Ivey’s new novel is a journey and adventure into the wilderness of Alaska and the depths of the human heart. When Sophie Forrester agrees to marry an army man in the 1800s she thinks she is going on his mapping expedition to Alaska with him. When she is told she will have to stay behind they are both devastated. Wife and husband will take separate journeys in an effort to explore the unknown while trying to find their way back to each other.

Sophie and Allen are introduced to us through their own journals and letters of descendants who want to make sure their story is preserved for history. The relationship between the relative and the museum curator, husband and wife, army captain and team, and Alaskan explorers and First Peoples are mixed together with historical excerpts from books, photographs, and artifact descriptions. This novel is a museum within two covers of a particular time and place, and the heartaches and struggles that transcend both. Continue reading “Balancing on the Edge”

New Southern Gothic

Miss Jane Miss Jane is a modern take on southern gothic literature. Miss Jane’s character would have been misunderstood as the freak or grotesque in novels past, but in National Book Award Finalist Brad Watson’s new book, Miss Jane is the innocent, the sun around which the rest of the story revolves, and it is her light that warms the novel. She crushes us with heartbreak and humanity as she stuns us with her strength and the feeling she could be me, she could be you.

In an age in which we are learning see sexuality and gender on a spectrum instead of binaries and look at the soul before anatomy, Miss Jane takes us on an unforgettable journey of being different in the rural south. Born in 1915 in Mississippi, Jane is diagnosed with a rare birth defect that will always set her apart from others. Her childhood doctor befriends her and tries with candor and care to help her navigate a world that does not allow for difference. Based on the experiences of Brad Watson’s own relative, he creates a beautiful atmospheric novel that captures a time in the past with a twist of modern issues, and a coming of age that is both universal and unique. Continue reading “New Southern Gothic”

Your child is not your own…

untitled

“In English there was a word for every object. In Ojibwe there was a word for every action.” LaRose

What would you do if you accidentally killed a child? And not a stranger, not a family you would never see again, but the child of your friend, the child of your family.

A modern mutigenerational masterpiece from Louise Erdrich-Two families are torn apart by a horrible hunting accident. One family’s patriarch accidentally kills the son of his friend, next door neighbor and family by marriage. LaRose is the best friend of the little boy who was killed. His parents decide that to make things right, they have to give LaRose to the family who lost their child. Continue reading “Your child is not your own…”

But what if…

 

9780811225137[1]

Who should read this: fans of Choose Your Own Adventure, poets, nihilists, optimists, history nerds, musicians, and those searching for meaning in life

The story: A child dies shortly after birth, the same child lives to die in adulthood in a mass grave, the same woman, older, has to explain her life to survive, and so it goes on. Will she ever rest in peace? In a series of five books, the same character will die. Between each book is an intermezzo, a what-if, a turning of the die, chance intervenes, and the character lives on through European history spanning three wars, only one cold. With eloquence, the author creates five different lives, all lived by the same woman. Each voice is distinct, each life a new iteration of what was and what could be. The ultimate Choose Your Own Adventure for adults. Continue reading “But what if…”