The "Eden" in Pulitzer Prize-winning Robert Olen Butler's astonishing first novel is a room. A man and woman have lived in this room for almost five years, in love, and in a secrecy forced upon them by a dangerous past: Clifford Wilkes is a deserter, in fact the last American Army deserter left in Saigon; Lanh is an extradordinary woman whose love is enabling her slowly to heal from the bitter life of prostitution to which she had been subjected by foreign troops. The scars of the past born by both, the sensitivity of their understanding, their need for each other in an unremitting atmosphere of crisis, have sealed them in a pssion of love now under daily threat.
The life they make together is so truly described that the reader lives with them daily in its strangeness and intimacy, and in intensifying anxity as the last moment for escape in America approaches. They desperate race through the alleys of the city, with the engines of the choppers - their final hope - hammering away in the distance, their arrival at the gates in front of freedom, and finally the rise of flight into the sky - this suspensful sequence of action comprise one of the most powerful passages of writing in any novel of war in our time.