A captivating look at the grim cosmos of international terrorism ensconced in a moving family drama.


In this novel, a Canadian whose job entails preventing terrorists from recruiting new followers confronts his worst nightmare.

Erik Petersson works for the High-Risk Traveler Task Force, a Canadian agency charged with a single mission: “identify and stop high-risk travelers from leaving the country.” High risk largely means those who, for diverse reasons astutely plumbed by Luft (The Battle Within, 2017), are vulnerable to the allure of ideological extremism. In a morbid twist of fate, Erik receives a bewildering call from his young daughter, Arielle, who reveals she’s in Germany and is about to hop a flight to Turkey with Syria as her final destination. She explains that she’s recently converted to Islam and is about to embark on her first hijrah, a devoted Muslim’s duty to make a pilgrimage to the Caliphate. Erik is understandably horrified and immediately uses his position to track her whereabouts. But after he defies warnings to recuse himself from the case, he is suspended indefinitely. The author deftly chronicles Erik’s indefatigable efforts to rescue his daughter from a world whose dangers he knows intimately as well as Arielle’s terrifying experience in Syria. Erik is eventually forced to take matters into his own hands and is able to trace his daughter’s recruitment, from an extremist professor in Canada, Dr. Omar Sahraoui, to a powerful terrorist in Raqqa, Abu Noor al Kanadi. Luft artfully coalesces two disparate literary genres: a counterintelligence thriller and an emotional drama. Through Arielle, he delicately examines the perilous path to radicalization, in her case through the twin traumas of her mother’s suicide and a sexual assault on her college campus: “What she needed wasn’t more protection, or more freedom, but more respect. More community. And she’d found it.” The author also furnishes an eye-opening exploration of the “convenient ideals” of most terrorist organizations, and the dark links between them and the global drug trade. His novel is as edifying as it is engrossing, a rare combination of literary skill and intellectual rigor. 

A captivating look at the grim cosmos of international terrorism ensconced in a moving family drama.

Pub Date: Aug. 29, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-68433-339-4

Page Count: 286

Publisher: Black Rose Writing

Review Posted Online: July 15, 2019

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While a few weeks ago it seemed as if Praeger would have a two month lead over Dutton in their presentation of this Soviet best seller, both the "authorized" edition (Dutton's) and the "unauthorized" (Praeger's) will appear almost simultaneously. There has been considerable advance attention on what appears to be as much of a publishing cause celebre here as the original appearance of the book in Russia. Without entering into the scrimmage, or dismissing it as a plague on both your houses, we will limit ourselves to a few facts. Royalties from the "unauthorized" edition will go to the International Rescue Committee; Dutton with their contracted edition is adhering to copyright conventions. The Praeger edition has two translators and one of them is the translator of Doctor Zhivago Dutton's translator, Ralph Parker, has been stigmatized by Praeger as "an apologist for the Soviet regime". To the untutored eye, the Dutton translation seems a little more literary, the Praeger perhaps closer to the rather primitive style of the original. The book itself is an account of one day in the three thousand six hundred and fifty three days of the sentence to be served by a carpenter, Ivan Denisovich Shukhov. (Solzhenitsyn was a political prisoner.) From the unrelenting cold without, to the conditions within, from the bathhouse to the latrine to the cells where survival for more than two weeks is impossible, this records the hopeless facts of existence as faced by thousands who went on "living like this, with your eyes on the ground". The Dutton edition has an excellent introduction providing an orientation on the political background to its appearance in Russia by Marvin Kalb. All involved in its publication (translators, introducers, etc.) claim for it great "artistic" values which we cannot share, although there is no question of its importance as a political and human document and as significant and tangible evidence of the de-Stalinization program.

Pub Date: June 15, 1963

ISBN: 0451228146

Page Count: 181

Publisher: Praeger

Review Posted Online: Oct. 5, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1963

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The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.

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Four men who meet as college roommates move to New York and spend the next three decades gaining renown in their professions—as an architect, painter, actor and lawyer—and struggling with demons in their intertwined personal lives.

Yanagihara (The People in the Trees, 2013) takes the still-bold leap of writing about characters who don’t share her background; in addition to being male, JB is African-American, Malcolm has a black father and white mother, Willem is white, and “Jude’s race was undetermined”—deserted at birth, he was raised in a monastery and had an unspeakably traumatic childhood that’s revealed slowly over the course of the book. Two of them are gay, one straight and one bisexual. There isn’t a single significant female character, and for a long novel, there isn’t much plot. There aren’t even many markers of what’s happening in the outside world; Jude moves to a loft in SoHo as a young man, but we don’t see the neighborhood change from gritty artists’ enclave to glitzy tourist destination. What we get instead is an intensely interior look at the friends’ psyches and relationships, and it’s utterly enthralling. The four men think about work and creativity and success and failure; they cook for each other, compete with each other and jostle for each other’s affection. JB bases his entire artistic career on painting portraits of his friends, while Malcolm takes care of them by designing their apartments and houses. When Jude, as an adult, is adopted by his favorite Harvard law professor, his friends join him for Thanksgiving in Cambridge every year. And when Willem becomes a movie star, they all bask in his glow. Eventually, the tone darkens and the story narrows to focus on Jude as the pain of his past cuts deep into his carefully constructed life.  

The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.

Pub Date: March 10, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-385-53925-8

Page Count: 720

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2015

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