A long-ago world comes fully alive in this richly imagined tale.



In this debut Neolithic novel, a cave-dwelling boy’s life utterly changes when he’s kidnapped by obsidian traders and taken to a bustling urban center.

Born in 6350 B.C.E. in what’s now northern Turkey, Tulirane, called Tuli, is 7 years old and lives with his small family group in a sheltered cave. After an especially severe winter, the tribe faces famine. Usually ignored, Tuli becomes a hero when he discovers a hibernating bear, whose meat saves the tribe and their relatives from starving to death. Later that summer, Tuli is allowed for the first time to join the clan when it moves south, seeing new sights, meeting new people, and hearing of new dangers, like raiders who kidnap women. And Tuli at last learns the story of his father, a northern stranger named Rane, who was searching for a holy man to the south (perhaps, it’s hinted, Zarathustra himself). Tulirane (or “Light of Rane”) inherited his father’s height, blue eyes, fair skin, and golden hair, making him stand out among the swarthier, shorter peoples of the Anatolian plateau. Searching for obsidian one day, Tuli is kidnapped by raiders who think he’s a girl. When his captor, Makros, discovers otherwise, he’s not dismayed; instead, he begins working on a scheme to use Tuli for a power grab in his home, Bhelsakros (the tale’s name for Çatalhöyük, one of the world’s first cities). Biding his time, Makros houses his new slave with a kind master obsidian crafter, Urik. Though Bhelsakros is bewilderingly strange, with its bustle, noise, stench, and strange customs, Tuli settles in and learns to craft perfect, long obsidian points, an art he finds deeply compelling. After several years, Makros’ plans come to fruition—plans that will involve Tuli in a secret ritual, a conflict between warriors and priests, and the dawning of a new age in Anatolia. In her intelligent and absorbing novel, scholar Settegast (When Zarathustra Spoke, 2005, etc.) writes of a time when the Near East was in flux. Hunting and gathering, nomadic pastoralism, and proto-urban living were all practiced in Turkey circa 6400 B.C.E. This cultural complexity, together with the religious and political disputes of the time, gives full flavor to Tuli’s story. At times, Tuli can sound overly academic or stiff, but that’s a small matter. Observant and sensitive, the boy is an engaging narrator, and his descriptions of life and work 8,000 years ago are captivating: how to kill a bear with no more than a wooden mallet and some smoldering pine branches; the difference between obsidian worked with a stone hammer and with an antler punch; how to navigate a city that has no streets or alleyways by rooftop and ladder. The author illuminates ideas, such as the differences between wild and pastoral, in ways that are thought-provoking but still part of the story. The suspenseful conclusion has an unexpected and satisfying resolution—one that may leave readers hoping for a sequel.

A long-ago world comes fully alive in this richly imagined tale.

Pub Date: Sept. 28, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-73241-220-0

Page Count: 313

Publisher: Rotenberg Press

Review Posted Online: Dec. 3, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 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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Unrelenting gloom relieved only occasionally by wrenching trauma; somehow, though, Hannah’s storytelling chops keep the...


Hannah’s sequel to Firefly Lane (2008) demonstrates that those who ignore family history are often condemned to repeat it.

When we last left Kate and Tully, the best friends portrayed in Firefly Lane, the friendship was on rocky ground. Now Kate has died of cancer, and Tully, whose once-stellar TV talk show career is in free fall, is wracked with guilt over her failure to be there for Kate until her very last days. Kate’s death has cemented the distrust between her husband, Johnny, and daughter Marah, who expresses her grief by cutting herself and dropping out of college to hang out with goth poet Paxton. Told mostly in flashbacks by Tully, Johnny, Marah and Tully’s long-estranged mother, Dorothy, aka Cloud, the story piles up disasters like the derailment of a high-speed train. Increasingly addicted to prescription sedatives and alcohol, Tully crashes her car and now hovers near death, attended by Kate’s spirit, as the other characters gather to see what their shortsightedness has wrought. We learn that Tully had tried to parent Marah after her father no longer could. Her hard-drinking decline was triggered by Johnny’s anger at her for keeping Marah and Paxton’s liaison secret. Johnny realizes that he only exacerbated Marah’s depression by uprooting the family from their Seattle home. Unexpectedly, Cloud, who rebuffed Tully’s every attempt to reconcile, also appears at her daughter’s bedside. Sixty-nine years old and finally sober, Cloud details for the first time the abusive childhood, complete with commitments to mental hospitals and electroshock treatments, that led to her life as a junkie lowlife and punching bag for trailer-trash men. Although powerful, Cloud’s largely peripheral story deflects focus away from the main conflict, as if Hannah was loath to tackle the intractable thicket in which she mired her main characters.

Unrelenting gloom relieved only occasionally by wrenching trauma; somehow, though, Hannah’s storytelling chops keep the pages turning even as readers begin to resent being drawn into this masochistic morass.

Pub Date: April 23, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-312-57721-6

Page Count: 416

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Feb. 18, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2013

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