John Shors, Author New American Library $15 (384p) ISBN 978-0-451-22785-0
Shors's third novel tells an absorbing story weakened by melodrama, sentimentality and exposition. After promising her dying father, a Vietnam War veteran, to take care of his shelter for street children in Ho Chi Minh City, American writer Iris agrees to take along her childhood friend Noah, now a depressed veteran who lost his leg in Iraq. In Vietnam, they find the shelter has drawn an appealing cast of Americans and Vietnamese, all seeking escape and salvation, including two children exploited by a brutal drug addict, and an impoverished old woman whose granddaughter is dying of cancer. Though interesting, most characters never overcome Shors's insistence on telling, rather than showing, their inner lives (""he hurt and hated so much""). Melodrama and mawkish foreshadowing (""I'm taking the risks... and everything's going to be just the way it was meant to be"") will prove familiar to anyone who's watched a TV movie. Though frustrating, this is the kind of novel (provocative, polarizing, exotic) that should stir book group discussion.
Shors' sophomore effort (following Beneath a Marble Sky), set on an island in the South Pacific during three weeks in 1942, features achingly lyrical prose, even in depicting the horrors of war. Continue reading »
The fifth novel from Shors (Beneath a Marble Sky) features young Americans so unworldly as to strain credulity, local Thais so saintly and industrious as to be unintentionally patronizing, and a Continue reading »
Shors's spirited debut novel tells the story of the eldest daughter of the 17th-century emperor who built the Taj Mahal. From her self-imposed exile, Jahanara recalls growing up in the Red Continue reading »
Though Shors (Dragon House) has skirted the edge of mawkishness in his earlier books, he crosses the line in this emotionally manipulative story of grief. Ian McCray is still a wreck a year after the Continue reading »
"The river was red. The red of both birth and death." Thus begins the prophecy of Ajadevi, visionary and queen to Jayavar, in Shors's thousand year-old dive into the Indochinese past, one unfamiliar Continue reading »