The Book of Jonas: A Novel

The Book of Jonas: A Novel

4.3 16
by Stephen Dau
     
 

View All Available Formats & Editions

Jonas is fifteen when his family is killed during an errant U.S. military operation in an unnamed Middle Eastern country. An international relief organization sends Jonas to America, where he struggles to assimilate—adapting to his foster family, high school, a first love. Jonas meets Rose Henderson, the mother of the U.S. soldier responsible for saving his

Overview

Jonas is fifteen when his family is killed during an errant U.S. military operation in an unnamed Middle Eastern country. An international relief organization sends Jonas to America, where he struggles to assimilate—adapting to his foster family, high school, a first love. Jonas meets Rose Henderson, the mother of the U.S. soldier responsible for saving his life. Christopher Henderson disappeared after the raid that destroyed Jonas’s village, and Rose yearns to know the truth. Gradually, a shocking and painful secret emerges.

In spare, evocative prose, debut novelist Stephen Dau crafts a virtuosic novel about memory, the terrible choices made during war, and what happens when foreign disaster arrives at our own doorstep.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
A Kirkus Reviews “Best of 2012” fiction selection
A School Library Journal “Best of 2012” Adult fiction for Teens selection
A Top-Ten favorite book of 2012 from Sam Sacks of The Wall Street Journal
A Booklist  Editor's Choice: Best Adult Books for Young Adults, 2012
 
"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. Rich with symbolism, marvelously descriptive in language... Dau's novel offers deeply resonating truths about war and culture, about family and loss that only art can reveal. A literary tour de force."
- Kirkus Reviews (starred)
 
"A sobering and accomplished read meant to prick the conscience; highly recommended."
- Library Journal
 
"Intriguing characters reveal the effects of war on both victim and victimizer, and raise important questions about the emotional implications of modern warfare."
- Publishers Weekly
 
"The toll that war exacts has seldom been demonstrated more vividly in fiction than in this tale...With its spare prose and nuanced plot that loops back and forth chronologically, Dau's first novel is an absolutely compelling account of the damage done to all sides by armed conflict. An essential addition to the literature of war."
- Booklist
 
"Stephen Dau writes with remarkable precision, vitality and honesty."
- Steven Galloway, author of The Cellist of Sarajevo
 
“This is first rate, original, powerful storytelling.”
- Jean Thompson, National Book Award finalist and author of The Year We Left Home
 
“This is an utterly riveting debut.”
- Marisa Silver, author of The God of War
 
"The artfully crafted story zeroes in on those seconds when decisions are made, sometimes with terrifying consequences."
- Kathleen Daley, The Star Ledger (New Jersey)
 
“Dau does a beautiful job of creating tales shrouded in mystery, filled with pain and suffering … A modern, Citizen Kane like morality play about war, death, ordinary people, hope and forgiveness."
- Shelf Awareness
 
“[S]pare prose...enhances the remarkably meager body of 21st-century wartime literature and identifies Pittsburgh as a site of divine intervention....the embodiment of truth and a symbol of human frailty; a record of war, a labor of love, and a tangible connection to lost ideals.”
- Sandra Levis, Pittsburgh Quarterly
 
“A humane and unforgettable portrayal of the lives behind those casualty counts … Dau beautifully addresses a need to emotionally engage with a war that has been going on for 10 years but that so often feels remote and unreal … It is the first [novel of 2012] to feel genuinely important.
- Wall Street Journal
 
“Everything's a shock to the system for Jonas, a teenager from an unnamed Central Asian country, when he's granted asylum in the U.S. His struggles to assimilate and come to terms with his life — and the American soldier who saved it — make a story that could have been spun from yesterday's headlines.  But in Stephen Dau's careful hands, it touches the deepest truths of loss and healing.”
- Barnes & Noble
 
“Dau creates a disturbing portrayal of war as it destroys ideals and innocence and makes victims of civilians and soldiers alike. 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 … Dau demonstrates the tragic paradoxes of war in this brilliant and deceptively simple novel that will provide ample discussion for high school classes studying Middle East conflicts.”
- School Library Journal
 
“In moments, Dau’s riffs on the young man’s life recall the dense beauty of Michael Ondaatje’s “The English Patient.’’ Like that book, [The Book of Jonas] is a tale obsessed with the way war can fracture memory and cauterize the place where love can begin....If only our news had such radical belief in the power of empathy.”
- John Freeman, The Boston Globe

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780452298972
Publisher:
Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date:
02/26/2013
Pages:
272
Product dimensions:
5.30(w) x 7.90(h) x 0.70(d)
Age Range:
18 Years

What People are saying about this

From the Publisher
A Kirkus Reviews “Best of 2012” fiction selection
A School Library Journal “Best of 2012” Adult fiction for Teens selection
A Top-Ten favorite book of 2012 from Sam Sacks of The Wall Street Journal
A Booklist  Editor's Choice: Best Adult Books for Young Adults, 2012
 
"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. Rich with symbolism, marvelously descriptive in language... Dau's novel offers deeply resonating truths about war and culture, about family and loss that only art can reveal. A literary tour de force."
- Kirkus Reviews (starred)
 
"A sobering and accomplished read meant to prick the conscience; highly recommended."
- Library Journal
 
"Intriguing characters reveal the effects of war on both victim and victimizer, and raise important questions about the emotional implications of modern warfare."
- Publishers Weekly
 
"The toll that war exacts has seldom been demonstrated more vividly in fiction than in this tale...With its spare prose and nuanced plot that loops back and forth chronologically, Dau's first novel is an absolutely compelling account of the damage done to all sides by armed conflict. An essential addition to the literature of war."
- Booklist
 
"Stephen Dau writes with remarkable precision, vitality and honesty."
- Steven Galloway, author of The Cellist of Sarajevo
 
“This is first rate, original, powerful storytelling.”
- Jean Thompson, National Book Award finalist and author of The Year We Left Home
 
“This is an utterly riveting debut.”
- Marisa Silver, author of The God of War
 
"The artfully crafted story zeroes in on those seconds when decisions are made, sometimes with terrifying consequences."
- Kathleen Daley, The Star Ledger (New Jersey)
 
“Dau does a beautiful job of creating tales shrouded in mystery, filled with pain and suffering … A modern, Citizen Kane like morality play about war, death, ordinary people, hope and forgiveness."
- Shelf Awareness
 
“[S]pare prose...enhances the remarkably meager body of 21st-century wartime literature and identifies Pittsburgh as a site of divine intervention....the embodiment of truth and a symbol of human frailty; a record of war, a labor of love, and a tangible connection to lost ideals.”
- Sandra Levis, Pittsburgh Quarterly
 
“A humane and unforgettable portrayal of the lives behind those casualty counts … Dau beautifully addresses a need to emotionally engage with a war that has been going on for 10 years but that so often feels remote and unreal … It is the first [novel of 2012] to feel genuinely important.
- Wall Street Journal
 
“Everything's a shock to the system for Jonas, a teenager from an unnamed Central Asian country, when he's granted asylum in the U.S. His struggles to assimilate and come to terms with his life — and the American soldier who saved it — make a story that could have been spun from yesterday's headlines.  But in Stephen Dau's careful hands, it touches the deepest truths of loss and healing.”
- Barnes & Noble
 
“Dau creates a disturbing portrayal of war as it destroys ideals and innocence and makes victims of civilians and soldiers alike. 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 … Dau demonstrates the tragic paradoxes of war in this brilliant and deceptively simple novel that will provide ample discussion for high school classes studying Middle East conflicts.”
- School Library Journal
 
“In moments, Dau’s riffs on the young man’s life recall the dense beauty of Michael Ondaatje’s “The English Patient.’’ Like that book, [The Book of Jonas] is a tale obsessed with the way war can fracture memory and cauterize the place where love can begin....If only our news had such radical belief in the power of empathy.”
- John Freeman, The Boston Globe

Meet the Author

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.

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Write a Review

and post it to your social network

     

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews >

The Book of Jonas 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 16 reviews.
shayrp76 More than 1 year ago
Fifteen year old Jonas is sent to America after his village is attacked and his family killed in the Middle East. Adjusting to his new life is challenging to say the least and he is required to see a therapist when it is apparent that things aren’t going well. In an attempt to heal he meets the mother of the U.S. Soldier that saved his life and he starts to open up about what really happened when his village was attacked. Secrets that Jonas has struggled with and protected for years suffocate the details that he will share. This is one of those stories that will stay with me forever. As a military wife I read this with open eyes about war and what it does to people, so I was surprised by the accuracy because usually people overdo it and get it wrong. Jonas’ character was so rich and clear that I felt like I knew him and I could easily sympathize with him. The emotion of the story was so realistic that I felt this story just as much as I read it, which doesn’t happen as much as I would like. Needless to say, this was a hard one to put down even when I read the last page. I will not be able to recommend this one enough.
DMBJS More than 1 year ago
Great book
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
How about katherine?
The_Book_Wheel_Blog More than 1 year ago
This heart wrenching novel is captivating from start to finish. Reading the book, I felt like I was there with the main character, Jonas, and was so anxious to get to the end and figure the whole story out. I liked that the book was not specific to a certain country and did not take sides, allowing the reader to really empathize with all of the characters. It’s a quick read, but definitely one that is worth it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I am a voracious reader, but this one was a struggle to read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I absolutely loved this book. I enjoyed the writing style of the author. The emotions that all of the characters felt, especially Jonas and Christopher, were made real and I felt that I could identify with them right away. I would definitely read it again.
GtzLstNRding More than 1 year ago
this is a very touching story of a journal of those who have served in a war, how the dealt with all the pyschological aftermath and as well as the trials and turbulations they went through. I have to admit at some parts I got a little lost and confused, but I think it was for other reasons then the book. I had a long wait for the book so I would consider reading it again.
CelticReader More than 1 year ago
Simply put ... to the point - an evocative tale of war and choices. It is prose which gives perspective to recent events and the long-term effects of decisions we make.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I loved this story from start to finish. As a veteran i found myself able to identify with Christopher, a soldier who saves Jonas life; and I was challenged to see the perspective of the civilian in war through Jonas. I was found myself so engrossed in the novel that i had read it cover to cover in one sitting. I would say this is a must read for anyone who knows someone affected by war, or if you yourself were. I look forward to more work from this author.
BBR47 More than 1 year ago
I consider The Book of Jonas no less than a stunning, masterful piece of work. It’s hard to believe that it’s a debut novel. Stephen Dau is able to weave together a compassionate picture of the many victims of war and how their lives intersect regardless of geological location, nationality, religion, gender or age. I do not profess to be a reader of “war stories,” and generally stay clear of violence in my reading. This book deserves far better than to be pigeon holed into any simplistic category. It is far too sensitive. It stretches the reader to think outside the box. The beauty and symbolism throughout took my breath away. For the first time in many years, I have bought multiple copies of a book to give friends.
Red_The_Reader More than 1 year ago
That's all I can saw is wow. This book is amazing and totally worth a read, not once but twice or even more then that. Every little word in this book is worth it. Stephen Dau is one of the best authors I have ever been blessed to read. For his first time, he blew it out of the water. And again, all I can say is wow.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A character driven story written from the point of view of a young refugee who was sent to live in America after being found injured after an American attack on his village, in a presumably middle eastern country. The journey he takes to come to terms with his own actions and the those of his rescuer are a compelling look into what happens to individuals when faced with the impossible choices of war: group pressure and individual responsibility, and how it affects us and those around us.