The Book of Jonas by Stephen Dau

60%

10 Critic Reviews

Short, sometimes contrived chapters moving between Jonas, Christopher, and Rose propel the novel quickly through time toward the truth about the attack.
-Publishers Weekly

Synopsis

An exceptional debut novel about a young Muslim war orphan whose family is killed in a military operation gone wrong, and the American soldier to whom his fate, and survival, is bound.

Jonas is fifteen when his family is killed during an errant U.S. military operation in an unnamed Muslim country. With the help of an international relief organization, he is sent to America, where he struggles to assimilate-foster family, school, a first love. Eventually, he tells a court-mandated counselor and therapist about a U.S. soldier, Christopher Henderson, responsible for saving his life on the tragic night in question. Christopher's mother, Rose, has dedicated her life to finding out what really happened to her son, who disappeared after the raid in which Jonas' village was destroyed. When Jonas meets Rose, a shocking and painful secret gradually surfaces from the past, and builds to a shattering conclusion that haunts long after the final page. Told in spare, evocative prose, The Book of Jonas is about memory, about the terrible choices made during war, and about what happens when foreign disaster appears at our own doorstep. It is a rare and virtuosic novel from an exciting new writer to watch.

 

About Stephen Dau

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STEPHEN DAU is from Western Pennsylvania and lives in Brussels. He worked for ten years in post-war reconstruction and international development prior to studying creative writing, at Johns Hopkins University and Bennington, where he received an MFA. His work has appeared in McSweeney's, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, on MSNBC, and elsewhere. The Book of Jonas is his first novel.
 
Published March 15, 2012 by Plume. 263 pages
Genres: Mystery, Thriller & Suspense, Literature & Fiction, War, Arts & Photography, Travel. Fiction
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Critic reviews for The Book of Jonas
All: 10 | Positive: 6 | Negative: 4

Kirkus

Below average
Jan 15 2012

While leaving one minor narrative thread dangling, Dau sketches Jonas brilliantly, empathetically, writing with spare, clear language in the third person, a point of view encompassing the distance necessary for emotional clarity.

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Publishers Weekly

Below average
Jan 16 2012

Short, sometimes contrived chapters moving between Jonas, Christopher, and Rose propel the novel quickly through time toward the truth about the attack.

Read Full Review of The Book of Jonas | See more reviews from Publishers Weekly

Boston.com

Below average
Reviewed by John Freeman on Apr 01 2012

Would that Chris’s voice felt as believable as Jonas’s fractured mind; it doesn’t.

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NJ.com

Below average
Reviewed by Kathleen Daley on Mar 11 2012

At first, the choppiness is annoying, but soon it doesn’t matter.

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School Library Journal

Excellent
Reviewed by John Sexton on Mar 19 2012

The novel is composed in a way that’s similar to how a painter creates with watercolors: with delicate, barely substantive layers that blend together to reveal depth, nuance, and meaning.

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Pittsburgh Quarterly

Excellent
Reviewed by Sandra Levis

Stephen Dau’s maiden effort has a number of admirable features, including spare prose, a wealth of veiled theological and philosophical references, and an effectively accessible central metaphor of unlikely comrades.

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Popcorn Reads

Good
Reviewed by MK

Stephen Dau has written a brilliant and timely debut novel in The Book of Jonas.

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Bookmagnet

Good
Reviewed by Jaime on Apr 12 2012

I applaud Dau for superbly crafting an ending no one can see coming.

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Caitie Flum

Good
Reviewed by Caitie Flum on Mar 09 2012

This powerful and stunning debut novel is worth reading.

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A thousand books with quotes

Good
Apr 04 2012

There is a surprising gentleness to this book, even though it talks about the brutality of war.

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Reader Rating for The Book of Jonas
81%

An aggregated and normalized score based on 57 user ratings from iDreamBooks & iTunes


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