cover image In Many Waters

In Many Waters

Ami Sands Brodoff. Inanna (SPD, U.S. dist.; Brunswick Books, Canadian dist.), $22.95 trade paper (300p) ISBN 978-1-77133-365-8

Brodoff, who previously won a Canadian Jewish Book Award for Fiction for The White Space In Between, competently explores Malta’s present and past in this short novel. Of a boatload of refugees who set out to escape Gadhafi’s Libya, only Aziza survives, pulled from Malta’s surf by Cal Braverman. Cal and his sister, Zoe, are visitors to Malta, there to uncover their shattered family’s hidden past. Helping Aziza seems but a distraction from their true purpose. The Braverman siblings’ parents are lost to them, but their parents’ secrets are not. Methodical investigation uncovers tragedy and betrayal, but as painful as this is, it is the only path to reconciliation. Cal and Zoe’s quest allows the author to explore the long and often tragic history of the Jews of Malta. Aziza’s tale of Libyan woe seems related only by the luck that puts Cal in the right place at the right time to save her, but as the novel progresses, their lives become inextricably entangled. Brevity is not a strength in this case: the novel lacks space to fully develop its themes, such as community born of calamity, and its effect is more allusive than illuminating. (Apr.)