The collective memory of prewar life repeatedly saves Omar and his family. The bloodthirsty horticulturist drops his threats when he realizes he is menacing the father and son of his beloved boxing instructor. The leader of the tunnel diggers is none other than their old gardener’s assistant, a hardworking teenager and Omar’s partner in kite-fighting; upon finding his old employer’s son and grandson in captivity he orders their immediate release. Omar’s retelling startlingly transforms each horror into a reminder of what lies beneath the rubble: an openhearted, hospitable community of generous, gregarious people, “one minute laughing and the next minute shouting” and always fiercely loyal to their kind.
I reviewed five hot new releases out July 2nd for The Daily Beast/Newsweek: Parsifal by Jim Krusoe, Jack 1939 by Francine Mathews, The Red Chamber by Pauline Chen, The Long Walk by Brian Castner and Octopus by Guy Lawson.