'[A] 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 bestselling THE PIANO TEACHER As the fall of Saigon begins in 1975, two lovers make their way through the streets, desperately trying to catch one of the last planes out. Helen Adams, a photojournalist, must leave behind a war she has become addicted to and a devastated country she loves. Linh, her lover, must grapple with his own conflicting loyalties to the woman from whom he can't bear to be parted, and his country. Betrayal and self-sacrifice follows, echoing the pattern of their relationship over the war-torn years, beginning in the splendour of Angkor Wat, with jaded, cynical, larger-than-life war correspondent Sam Darrow, Helen's greatest love and fiercest competitor, driven by demons she can only hope to vanquish. Spurred on by the moral imperative of documenting the horror of war, of getting the truth out to an international audience, and the immense personal cost this carries, Sam and Helen's passionate and all-consuming love is tested to the limit.
This mesmerising novel carries resonance across contemporary wars with questions of love and heart-breaking betrayal interwoven with the conflict.
'[A] haunting debut novel!quietly mesmerizing!tough and lyrical book. Its object lessons in how Helen learns to refine her wartime photography are succinct and powerful. By the end of the story -- in ways that bring to mind the feverishness of the Iraqi war film "The Hurt Locker", with its very different locations, job descriptions and wartime imperatives -- [Helen] has been utterly transformed. She is no longer a witness to history. As Ms Soli makes her readers understand very viscerally, Helen has become part of the history that she set out to record.' Janet Maslin, The New York Times 'Tatjana Soli's splendid first novel!Vivid battle scenes, sensual romantic entanglements and elegant writing add to the pleasures of The Lotus Eaters.' The New York Times Book Review (front cover review) 'If it's possible to judge a novel by its first few lines, then The Lotus Eaters, Tatjana Soli's fiction debut, shows great promise right from the start! The author explores Helen's psyche with startling clarity, and portrays the chaotic war raging around her with great attention to seemingly minor details. The real heartbreak in The Lotus Eaters is found in subtle, unexpected moments.' Boston Globe 'As with the Academy Award-winning The Hurt Locker, this novel examines the addiction to that adrenaline rush sometimes experienced by those unlucky enough to fall prey to!"terrible love of war"!"If your pictures aren't good enough, you aren't close enough," photojournalist Robert Capa famously said, and this is the dilemma that Helen faces: How close should she get?.. .The Vietnam conflict has receded into the history books, but The Lotus Eaters feels pulled from today's headlines, full of meaning for readers whose country is once again sending men and women to the battlefields, both to fight and to document that fighting.' Washington Post 'Gorgeous sensory details![an] entrancing debut' People magazine 'Cinematic!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 nation's horrific strife. Graphic but never gratuitous, the gripping, haunting narrative explores the complexity of violence, foreignness, even betrayal. Moving and memorable.' Starred Kirkus review '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, author of THAT OLD CAPE MAGIC, BRIDGE OF SIGHS, and the Pulitzer Prize-winning EMPIRE FALLS '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.' Tim O'Brien, author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning THE THINGS THEY CARRIED 'A vivid and memorable evocation of wartime Vietnam and the sort of people who lived out the darkness of the war. Tatjana Soli is a perceptive and talented writer. I was most impressed by THE LOTUS EATERS and enjoyed it from start to finish.' Robert Stone, author of National Book Award-winning author of A HALL OF MIRRORS, BAY OF SOULS, and BEAR AND HIS DAUGHTER 'Soli's poignant work will grab the attention!A powerful new writer to watch.' Library Journal '[A] suspenseful, eloquent, sprawling novel!this harrowing depiction of life and death shows that even as the country burned, love and hope triumphed.' Publishers Weekly '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 New York Times bestselling GIRLS IN TRUCKS