Into the Sun
When a car explodes in a crowded part of Kabul ten years after 9/11, a Japanese-American journalist is shocked to discover that the passengers were acquaintances—three fellow ex-pats who had formed an unlikely love triangle.
Alexandra was a human rights lawyer for imprisoned Afghan women. Justin was a born-again Christian who taught at a local school. Clay was an ex-soldier who worked as a private contractor. The car’s driver, Idris, was one of Justin’s most promising pupils—and he is missing. Drawn to the secrets of these strangers, and increasingly convinced the events that led to the fatal explosion weren’t random, the journalist follows a trail that leads from Afghanistan to Louisiana, Maine, Québec, and Dubai. In the process, the tortured narratives of these individuals become inseparable from the story of America’s imperial misadventures.
In this monumental novel, Deni Ellis Béchard draws an unsentimental portrait of those who flock to warzones, indelibly capturing these journalists, mercenaries, idealists, and aid workers. Béchard vividly brings to life the city of Kabul as well, along with the people who live there: the hungry, determined, and resourceful locals who are just as willing as their occupiers to reinvent themselves to survive.
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Praise and Prizes
“A ferociously intelligent and intensely gripping portrait of the expatriate community in Kabul—the idealists, mercenaries, aid workers, and journalists circling around a war offering them promises of purpose, redemption, or cash, while the local Afghans in their orbit negotiate the ever-changing and ever-dangerous politics of the latter stages of the American war in Afghanistan. Brilliant.”
“Ambitious and nuanced . . . An insightful and affecting look into the lives of those who risk everything to help the people of Afghanistan and tell their stories.”
“Into the Sun is an ambitious novel that succeeds on all levels. It’s a riveting mystery-thriller that also probes deeper into the nature of war and the ways in which it attracts and transforms some people. Into the Sun has the propulsive force of a car bomb in the bloodstream, quickening the reader’s pulse at every turn, right up to the very last page.”
“A story of haunting beauty rendered from the legacy of the Afghan War. In scope and skill, Deni Ellis Béchard’s portrait of those who are both drawn to and entangled by conflict is reminiscent of the best works of Graham Greene and Philip Caputo. A fitting paean to the wrecked souls of an endless war.”
“Into the Sun is ambitious, elegant, and filled with a kind of ferocious intelligence. Deni Ellis Béchard explores the culture of the war zone, creating a compelling picture of that dark and turbulent place.”
"We wake from this book as witnesses to Kabul, to America and to the crimes of men who need destruction to find definition and women desperate to understand. Deni Ellis Béchard is channeling Melville and Conrad, their oceans and rivers replaced with dust and smoke. There are sentences on these pages that will be quoted in universities and taped to newsroom desks for a century."
“One of the finest novels I’ve read in years, an unrelenting and daring masterpiece about war, the quest for understanding after tragedy, and the power of human yearning for connection.”