Night in Erg Chebbi

Edward Hamlin. Univ. of Iowa, $17 trade paper (198p) ISBN 978-1-60938-383-1
The worlds depicted in Hamlin’s haunting debut collection revolve around lost souls. In “Boy, Unleashed,” Child Services attempts to take adolescent Bobby from his parents, but he escapes into the Ozark woods, spurring a massive police search. Maeve Kelly, the protagonist of “Indígena,” hides in a secluded Brazilian village where she makes a living renting tree house cabanas to tourists. When Maeve becomes romantically involved with a wealthy and enigmatic American, she recalls her past as the daughter of a fugitive IRA hit man and her young adulthood in Haiti while her father served President Jean-Claude “Baby Doc” Duvalier. In the title story, Wilson brings his wife, Anna, to a dune sea in Morocco. Anna has been distant since the death of her brother, and Wilson hopes Anna will find her old self in the emptiness of the desert. Hamlin guides readers through dark emotional pathways, illuminating the search for new life in response to personal tragedies such as the death of a partner or a blinding illness. The narratives succeed because of the authenticity of the descriptions and voices, and Hamlin’s vast and vivid settings work to quickly establish tone and provide access into the emotional state of his characters. This is a memorable read from a writer with considerable talent. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 08/17/2015
Release date: 10/01/2015
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