Monday, August 05, 2013

The Book of Jonas - Stephen Dau

"Where do you go in your mind?" asks Paul, and Jonas tells him that sometimes he doesn't know, that sometimes he looks up to realize than an hour or more has passed as he sits in the library, or on the edge of his bed, or on a park bench, and that he has no recollection of it.

"Doesn't that worry you?" asks Paul. "How much time do you spend in this way, drifting and unaware, in your head?"

At first, Jonas doesn't understand the question. Or thinks that maybe he understands it differently from the way Paul intends it. But then he thinks that he does understand, and his face lights up with comprehension.

"Oh, lifetimes," he says at last. "I've spent lifetimes unconscious."

Inspired in part by my recent read of The Yellow Birds by Kevin Powers, I picked this book up recently and found it an interesting follow-up to Powers' book. While The Yellow Birds focused on the impact of the Iraq war on young soldiers, The Book of Jonas focuses on the impact of an unnamed Middle Eastern war on a refugee and his connections to the mother of an American soldier responsible for saving his life. This book was dark. You can feel the shadow of the painful secret that is revealed towards the end from the minute you finish the first paragraph and read this line "In the village they tried to make sense of it."

The Yellow Birds was dark too. Both seemed fitting given the nightmares that come from the inability to find peaceful resolution to our differences.

No comments: