Occasionally drab due to its subject matter, but an insightful, impressively broad glimpse of a formidable mission.

We'll Live Tomorrow

From debut author Everett comes a novel about contemporary chaotic life in Afghanistan.

“Aid work was my life,” Hunter Ames says. The divorced, middle-aged, former Peace Corps volunteer tries to do his small part to help rebuild war-torn Afghanistan, working for USAID, an American enterprise engaged in various projects to help the people of Afghanistan (and elsewhere) while building a positive relationship with its people. It’s a job full of difficult personalities, corruption, and tremendous amounts of American money. “What Is Not Spent Cannot Be Billed,” Hunter’s boss stressed—“He referred to it as something so absolute and unquestioned that it might have been chiseled into stone tablets”—meaning in effect that large amounts of taxpayer dollars had to be spent regardless of the usefulness in doing so. Because insurgent attacks and irate Afghanis were always a possibility, the job was dangerous and frustrating. Amid this quagmire is green-eyed Karimullah, a young Afghani man who escaped a life of forced prostitution in “the hidden world of bacha bazi.” Karimullah works for Americans such as Hunter, though doing so puts Karimullah’s life in danger. How will these two ever survive a place as unstable and disjointed as Afghanistan? Everett offers an authentic look at the strange world of foreign aid work, with subject matter ranging from office politics to suicide bombers to the human need to be part of a group: “We’re tribal creatures,” says an acquaintance of Hunter’s. The story goes deeper, exploring the former lives of Hunter and Karimullah in places that have little to do with the United States government. For instance, thinking about his son, Hunter reflects: “What do we ever really know about our parents?” Details of bureaucratic life can prove dull, however, particularly with the attendant emails and meetings: “I had a meeting planned that afternoon with the contractor who would be filling an order for farm machinery,” Hunter says. Yet, on the whole, the narrative composes a realistic and touching image of the men and women involved in this complex relationship and the infinite trials of an operation as arcane and immense as rebuilding a nation.

Occasionally drab due to its subject matter, but an insightful, impressively broad glimpse of a formidable mission.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-9962871-0-4

Page Count: -

Publisher: Galatea Press

Review Posted Online: July 19, 2015

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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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