The Solace of Trees

Robert Madrygin. New Europe, $16.95 trade paper (352p) ISBN 978-0-9973169-0-2
In Madrygin’s gripping debut, the horrors of war give way to the challenges of carving out a life in a hostile country. Amir is an 11-year-old living on a farm in Bosnia when his world is thrown into turmoil after the breakout of civil war. When his family is killed, Amir joins a group of strangers who eventually make their way to a UN camp. After a long, stifling wait at the camp Amir is finally given a chance to go to the United States. Amir thrives in the new country. Fostered by a former university professor, he becomes a film major and begins working on a documentary. But his upward trajectory and growing optimism are soon blunted by xenophobia (particularly Islamophobia) and post-9/11 anxiety that place him instantly in the role of antagonist in a country he has barely begun to know. Arrested and questioned about possible terrorist ties, Amir struggles to find a way to prove his innocence. Madrygin’s stark third-person narration allows focus on the difficulties faced by immigrants and refugees, particularly children who are struggling with trauma. But at times the writing becomes literal and overly detailed, walking the reader from point to point more like reportage than prose. While the novel effectively captures the broad strokes of life as a refugee, it never convincingly brings the human side of the story to life. (July)
Reviewed on: 05/29/2017
Release date: 07/11/2017
Genre: Fiction
Open Ebook - 978-0-9973169-1-9
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