cover image The Dig

The Dig

Anne Burt. Counterpoint, $26 (288p) ISBN 978-1-64009-604-2

Burt restages Antigone with a story of two Bosnian orphans and their adoptive American family in her inspired debut. Christopher and Eddie King, two American brothers who are in Sarajevo to build hotels when the siege begins in 1993, find Mujo and Andela in the rubble of a bombed-out building. The Kings adopt the children, rename them Paul and Antonia, and take them home to Thebes, Minn. Shortly after, Eddie dies from an opioid overdose. In the children’s teen years, Paul becomes estranged from Christopher after dropping out of high school and devoting his life to antiwar activism. Now, in the present, Paul goes missing after protesting a construction project in Thebes spearheaded by Christopher’s company, that would displace the local Somalian community, and is wanted by the police for his role in a riot. Christopher, feeling betrayed by Paul, urges Antonia, now a lawyer in the Twin Cities, to convince Paul to turn himself in. Occasionally, Burt’s allusions to Sophocles are more clunky than clever (the Bosnian siblings’ school in Thebes is named Mount Olympus), but the work’s strength lies in the ways Burt complicates her archetypal characters, such as in her portrayal of Antonia’s loyalty to Paul. It adds up to an engaging family tragedy. Agent: Susan Golomb, Writers House. (Mar.)