Lorraine Adams, Author . Knopf $23.95 (304p) ISBN 978-1-4000-4233-3

The uncertain lives of illegal Algerian immigrants are the subject of this compelling, topical debut novel. Adams, a Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist, brings a reporter's eye for detail to the story, which begins with Aziz Arkoun's arrival in Boston Harbor. After 52 days as a stowaway in a tanker's hold—his third attempt to escape his country—Aziz swims to shore. Adams reveals and conceals just enough to keep readers almost as disoriented as Aziz, who, with no English and ruined health, survives almost by chance. But Aziz has fled Algeria, where he was an accidental double agent for Islamist militants, for another kind of brutish existence: intermittent minimum-wage employment, shady compatriots and FBI scrutiny. Straying from his modus operandi of inconspicuous survival, he and his friend Ghazi investigate the mysterious storage unit of their roommate Rafik. Is Rafik moving stolen designer clothes, hash or explosive chemicals? Their fingerprints implicate them in Rafik's racket; Aziz flees to Brooklyn, and Ghazi runs to Montreal, where he's seduced by a life of crime and perhaps by the "Allah-talk" of a childhood acquaintance who aspires to be a node in an international terrorist network. Aziz is no "prayer-boy," but for the FBI there are too few degrees of separation between him and a terrorist cell. Adams's lucid, psychologically complicated page-turner captures the ambiguities of and raises important questions about the domestic war on terror. Agent, Tina Bennett at Janklow & Nesbit . (Sept. 1)

Reviewed on: 06/14/2004
Release date: 08/01/2004
Paperback - 293 pages - 978-1-84627-034-5
Paperback - 291 pages - 978-1-4000-7688-8
Open Ebook - 223 pages - 978-0-307-42616-1
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