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Into the Sun

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When a car explodes in a crowded part of Kabul ten years after 9/11, a Japanese-American journalist is shocked to discover that the passengers were acquaintances—three fellow ex-pats who had formed an unlikely love triangle. Alexandra was a human rights lawyer for imprisoned Afghan women. Justin was a born-again Christian who taught at a local school. Clay was an ex-soldier When a car explodes in a crowded part of Kabul ten years after 9/11, a Japanese-American journalist is shocked to discover that the passengers were acquaintances—three fellow ex-pats who had formed an unlikely love triangle. Alexandra was a human rights lawyer for imprisoned Afghan women. Justin was a born-again Christian who taught at a local school. Clay was an ex-soldier who worked as a private contractor. The car’s driver, Idris, was one of Justin’s most promising pupils—and he is missing. Drawn to the secrets of these strangers, and increasingly convinced the events that led to the fatal explosion weren’t random, the journalist follows a trail that leads from Kabul to Louisiana, Maine, Québec, and Dubai. In the process, the tortured narratives of these individuals become inseparable from the larger story of America’s imperial misadventures. In this monumental novel, Deni Ellis Béchard draws an unsentimental portrait of those who flock to warzones, indelibly capturing these journalists, mercenaries, idealists, and aid workers. More importantly, Béchard vividly brings to life the city of Kabul itself, along with the people who live there: the hungry, determined, and resourceful locals who are just as willing as their occupiers to reinvent themselves to survive.


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When a car explodes in a crowded part of Kabul ten years after 9/11, a Japanese-American journalist is shocked to discover that the passengers were acquaintances—three fellow ex-pats who had formed an unlikely love triangle. Alexandra was a human rights lawyer for imprisoned Afghan women. Justin was a born-again Christian who taught at a local school. Clay was an ex-soldier When a car explodes in a crowded part of Kabul ten years after 9/11, a Japanese-American journalist is shocked to discover that the passengers were acquaintances—three fellow ex-pats who had formed an unlikely love triangle. Alexandra was a human rights lawyer for imprisoned Afghan women. Justin was a born-again Christian who taught at a local school. Clay was an ex-soldier who worked as a private contractor. The car’s driver, Idris, was one of Justin’s most promising pupils—and he is missing. Drawn to the secrets of these strangers, and increasingly convinced the events that led to the fatal explosion weren’t random, the journalist follows a trail that leads from Kabul to Louisiana, Maine, Québec, and Dubai. In the process, the tortured narratives of these individuals become inseparable from the larger story of America’s imperial misadventures. In this monumental novel, Deni Ellis Béchard draws an unsentimental portrait of those who flock to warzones, indelibly capturing these journalists, mercenaries, idealists, and aid workers. More importantly, Béchard vividly brings to life the city of Kabul itself, along with the people who live there: the hungry, determined, and resourceful locals who are just as willing as their occupiers to reinvent themselves to survive.

30 review for Into the Sun

  1. 4 out of 5

    Daniel

    Un (très) gros roman sur les affres de la guerre et la complexité des grands et des petits récits. Certains passages semblent problématiques quant à la représentation de la violence faite aux femmes, mais les multiples couches de sens et la stratégie narrative viennent nuancer le rapport entre ce qui est décrit et ce qui est vécu par les personnages et ce qui est ensuite reçu par le lecteur.trice. La ligne est mince entre l’exploration de la masculinité toxique et le fait d’y carburer. J’avoue q Un (très) gros roman sur les affres de la guerre et la complexité des grands et des petits récits. Certains passages semblent problématiques quant à la représentation de la violence faite aux femmes, mais les multiples couches de sens et la stratégie narrative viennent nuancer le rapport entre ce qui est décrit et ce qui est vécu par les personnages et ce qui est ensuite reçu par le lecteur.trice. La ligne est mince entre l’exploration de la masculinité toxique et le fait d’y carburer. J’avoue que je ne suis pas arrivé à trancher. Ceci dit, l’architecture globale de ce livre-monde est trop impressionnante et, comment le dire autrement, élégante, pour ne pas s’incliner. Le fond et la forme sont ici en parfaite symbiose. La traduction de Dominique Fortier est cohérente du début à la fin.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Carolyn Walsh

    This is the story of assorted people who flock to a war zone, in this case Afghanistan. They seek to transform themselves. They come seeking fame or fortune, adventure, an addiction to danger, some with messianic ideals that they can change lives for the better. Some are collecting experiences to tell when they get home or are posting photographs or insights on social media while hoping to be hired as a photographer or write a book. We meet mercenaries, aid workers, human rights activists, schoo This is the story of assorted people who flock to a war zone, in this case Afghanistan. They seek to transform themselves. They come seeking fame or fortune, adventure, an addiction to danger, some with messianic ideals that they can change lives for the better. Some are collecting experiences to tell when they get home or are posting photographs or insights on social media while hoping to be hired as a photographer or write a book. We meet mercenaries, aid workers, human rights activists, school teachers, humanitarian workers, teachers, journalists, a dog rescuer, a woman planning to teach yoga to the Taliban in prison, a woman aiming to teach girls karate for self defence. " The war zone provides the expats with the backdrop to become the character they envision. They come to Afghanistan dreaming of being saviours, though their messianic impulses have less to do with others than to ascending to a position of influence." The Afghan people sometimes feel the need to transform themselves to prosper or just survive in the turmoil of their occupied country. The story begins at a party for expats at the home of a man specializing in security. It is ten years after 9/11. The residence is attacked and firebombed. Fortunately, most partygoers make their way to a 'safe room'. The narrator of the book is a Japanese writer who is emotionally shaken. Sometimes I thought the narrator to be male and at other times female. When asked in a Globe ad Mail interview with the author about the sex of the narrator; "the narrator tells the story without revealing much, often playing on the reader's projections." A few days later the narrator witnesses a deadly car explosion and realizes they knew the occupants. Dead are: Alexandra, a human rights lawyer from Quebec who works with imprisoned women; Clay, a mercenary whose mission is unclear until later in the story; Justin, a school teacher and born-again Christian from Louisiana who is convinced he can transform the lives of his students for the better. Missing after the car bombing is the driver, Idris, one of the brightest students at Justin's school. The head of the school prefers helping female students, managing to obtain overseas scholarships for the girls. Idris is mainly relegated janitorial services and driver at the school. The narrator feels it is their mission to track down and write about these three victims, what led them to Kabul, Afghanistan, and why they were targeted and by whom. The research leads the narrator to Quebec, Maine, Louisiana and Dubai. What is revealed is surprising and unexpected. The book introduces us to unique characters we seldom meet in print. There is a lot of intrigue, double crossing, double dealing, deception and disappointment. A interesting study in the futility of war.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Barry Martin Vass

    I was continually surprised by how fundamentally sound this novel is. Set in the dust and mud, the harsh winters, and the continual social and political upheaval of Kabul, Afghanistan, Author Deni Ellis Bechard never pulls his punches. (A recent blog post pointed out that the "dust" in and around Kabul is at least sixty percent desiccated fecal matter, making for a nasty surprise for anyone new to the area. Imagine: your eyes begin tearing immediately, and your nose will not stop running. To mak I was continually surprised by how fundamentally sound this novel is. Set in the dust and mud, the harsh winters, and the continual social and political upheaval of Kabul, Afghanistan, Author Deni Ellis Bechard never pulls his punches. (A recent blog post pointed out that the "dust" in and around Kabul is at least sixty percent desiccated fecal matter, making for a nasty surprise for anyone new to the area. Imagine: your eyes begin tearing immediately, and your nose will not stop running. To make matters worse, blowing your nose in public in a Muslim society is considered an abomination.) There are six main characters in this book, five expats and one sixteen-year-old Muslim schoolboy, Idris, who would do literally anything to escape his harsh existence in Kabul. The five expats are: Tam, a young American woman who blasts to every crime scene on a motorcycle and then writes about it: Michiko Kimura, a young Japanese-American, Tam's girlfriend, who mostly writes travel features for a number of online Japanese magazines but is looking for something new; Alexandra Desjardines, a women's rights lawyer from Quebec, Canada; Justin Falker, a teacher from Lake Charles, Louisiana, who has taken a position at a local girls' school, only to quickly find himself in over his head; and Clay Hervey, a private contractor (in the parlance of Kabul after the war: a mercenary). Clay is also from Lake Charles, and has been engaged in a blood feud with Justin for years. Part of what makes this novel so engaging is that, while the action is going on and the characters are interacting with each other, Author Bechard separates the action with vivid, almost clinical backstories of every character and the reasons for their motivations. And when three of the characters die in a car bomb that is quickly attributed to the Taliban, Michiko Kimura begins to investigate further, and what she ultimately discovers is startling to say the least. Into the Sun is simply searing.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Marina

    Excellent book. There's so much written about Afghanistan, and this is not a story about Afghanistan per say, but an excellent story, set in Kabul (with chunks of time in the U.S., Quebec, and Dubai too). Bechard sees deeply into the mindset of expats who choose to go to Kabul, as well as the Afghans who work with and for them. It's not a pretty picture in many ways and that's what makes this such a compelling story - why do people move to Kabul, and what motivates them to live and work there? A Excellent book. There's so much written about Afghanistan, and this is not a story about Afghanistan per say, but an excellent story, set in Kabul (with chunks of time in the U.S., Quebec, and Dubai too). Bechard sees deeply into the mindset of expats who choose to go to Kabul, as well as the Afghans who work with and for them. It's not a pretty picture in many ways and that's what makes this such a compelling story - why do people move to Kabul, and what motivates them to live and work there? And how do Afghans feel about it all? Anyone who wants to understand the Afghan war from a different perspective than simply looking at the military angle should read this book.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Nathan

    The plot was interesting enough to keep the story element relevant, but the exceptional part, was the flashbacks that gave context for why the different characters were in Afghanistan. The Alexandra's character was developed so well that as I read her story as a child, I started connected the dots immediately to what I read previously. The relationship of the two men in Lake Charles who experience 9/11 as Seniors in high school and take different paths was also really well done. The plot was interesting enough to keep the story element relevant, but the exceptional part, was the flashbacks that gave context for why the different characters were in Afghanistan. The Alexandra's character was developed so well that as I read her story as a child, I started connected the dots immediately to what I read previously. The relationship of the two men in Lake Charles who experience 9/11 as Seniors in high school and take different paths was also really well done.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Nadia

    This author is definitely up there with Kerouac.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Tyovetich

    Hard to put down. Worth reading and a nice juxtaposition to News From the Red Desert.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Garryvivianne

    Great story about ex-pats living in Kabul. They are non-governmental workers, teachers, journalists, they are there to prove something to themselves, to make themselves look good, some to really try to help. One of the characters, a Japanese American named Michiko is a journalist. One day after three of his fellow ex-patriots are killed in a car bomb, he starts to investigate. The three that were killed were, Justin, Clay and Alexandria, involved in a love triangle. Justin is a religious quiet k Great story about ex-pats living in Kabul. They are non-governmental workers, teachers, journalists, they are there to prove something to themselves, to make themselves look good, some to really try to help. One of the characters, a Japanese American named Michiko is a journalist. One day after three of his fellow ex-patriots are killed in a car bomb, he starts to investigate. The three that were killed were, Justin, Clay and Alexandria, involved in a love triangle. Justin is a religious quiet kind of guy, who knew Clay in his hometown, at one time, were even friends. Justin is a teacher in Kabul. Clay was always off on his own, nobody really knew anything about him. Both wanted to be soldiers, Justin because his family was a big military influenced family and Clay, maybe because Justin was so into it. After an accident involving Clay, Justin was unable to join the military, and Clay left town. Clay is no longer in the service, but is now a mercenary. Alexandria, a beautiful lawyer, helps women with their rights in Afghanistan. Also, somewhat behind the scenes, is Idris, a young man who is one of Justin's students. He more than anything, runs errands, drives, does odd jobs at the school. He feels like he is very unfairly treated as most men in regards to education. He feels that they are just using him, keeping him at the school because it does not look good for women to be alone with a man, even if doing studies. Idris too is in the car that exploded, and Idris survived. I liked the ending but also didn't. Makes you wonder how many end up like this. Overall, though, book was amazing, story well told. Loved it!

  9. 5 out of 5

    Michael Keenan

    This was one of the best-written books I've read in a long time. It took only 2 weeks to finish, which is greasy-fast for me. My first Afghanistan novel. The author had me scrambling for my dictionary often, which I like. Lots of in-depth character development, so I ended up becoming attached to nearly all of the characters. A very creative, twisty plot which kept me engaged throughout. And I feel like I have a much better understanding of life in the war-torn Middle East. This was one of the best-written books I've read in a long time. It took only 2 weeks to finish, which is greasy-fast for me. My first Afghanistan novel. The author had me scrambling for my dictionary often, which I like. Lots of in-depth character development, so I ended up becoming attached to nearly all of the characters. A very creative, twisty plot which kept me engaged throughout. And I feel like I have a much better understanding of life in the war-torn Middle East.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Carrie

    Kabul, gen years after 9/11. A Japanese journalist investigates a car bombing involving three of her friends.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Alexandra

    4.5/5

  12. 5 out of 5

    Rob Gillespie

    👍

  13. 4 out of 5

    Linda

    Review to come

  14. 5 out of 5

    Anne Logan

    I’m really torn between my conflicting thoughts on this book. Into the Sun by Deni Ellis Bechard is extremely ambitious, it goes into many in-depth descriptions of various people’s lives, starting from their childhood and ending with their deaths, all within a somewhat convoluted plot that attempts to explain their connections with each other. But, this book also illuminates some extremely complicated issues surrounding war in an empathetic and effective way, easily demonstrating Bechard’s talen I’m really torn between my conflicting thoughts on this book. Into the Sun by Deni Ellis Bechard is extremely ambitious, it goes into many in-depth descriptions of various people’s lives, starting from their childhood and ending with their deaths, all within a somewhat convoluted plot that attempts to explain their connections with each other. But, this book also illuminates some extremely complicated issues surrounding war in an empathetic and effective way, easily demonstrating Bechard’s talent as a writer. There’s also some pretty cool action scenes! I’ll give the most balanced review of this book that I can, and you can make the choice whether or not you think it’s for you. To read the rest of my review, please visit: https://ivereadthis.com/2018/04/05/bo...

  15. 4 out of 5

    Samuel Snoek-Brown

    This isn't exactly a page-turner, despite some of the claims in the blurbs. It does have several gripping, tense passages, and the sort-of mystery at play in the story -- once it gets going -- is compelling. But this is a slow, deliberate novel, much more of a head piece than an action novel. Sometimes that's frustrating -- the narrative is fragmented, told in multiple perspectives and often looping back on itself as it navigates various characters' perceptions of events, which can make for slow This isn't exactly a page-turner, despite some of the claims in the blurbs. It does have several gripping, tense passages, and the sort-of mystery at play in the story -- once it gets going -- is compelling. But this is a slow, deliberate novel, much more of a head piece than an action novel. Sometimes that's frustrating -- the narrative is fragmented, told in multiple perspectives and often looping back on itself as it navigates various characters' perceptions of events, which can make for slow going in the beginning. But ultimately, I found that plotting fascinating, from my perspective as a writer -- Béchard does things in this novel that give me permission to try similar structures in my own work, something I've been thinking about a lot lately. I personally also found this a difficult read because, as a white North-American who's lived an expat in a Muslim country, I was keenly aware of some of the privilege in Béchard's presentation of the people and cultures he's writing about -- in some places the explorations felt too . . . Western . . . and in other places the language felt a little appropriative. But I am also aware that some of this is me projecting my own concerns and self-criticisms onto the text, and so long as one reads the novel with an awareness that a white guy from Canada wrote this, one can take the story as it is -- and on those terms, it's clear that Béchard has actually taken as much care as any white guy from Canada can take with the peoples and cultures he presents in the book. He has clearly done his homework; he has clearly taken care to speak to the people he writes about, to hear their stories and try to represent them faithfully on the page. And if you stick with the book long enough to understand the narrative structure and the characters involved, the people begin to become more than their types. I am still a bit irked by some of the ways Béchard gives in to broad strokes and old tropes (I can't make any specific complaints without giving away parts of the plot, but generally speaking, I wish there had been a bit more backstory nuance and a bit more movement in the direction of the unexpected regarding the two main women in the book, the main Afghani man in the book, and even the two main American men in the book), but if you accept the characters on face value, they do develop fairly naturally and believably. Overall, the book is definitely a worthwhile read, with a satisfying (and not entirely expected) conclusion. I received it as a gift and I'm grateful to the giver, because I enjoyed the novel and would definitely recommend it (with a few caveats) to others.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Louis Dore-Savard

    Actually, 3.5 but I need to round it down for the following reasons. 1. It is a very good book, but not the page-turner, intense true war story advertised in the praise of the back cover. The pace is slower than I expected and the sequentially described perspectives of the different characters break the rhythm. 2. The first 100+ pages were frustrating for me because I could not figure out who the main character was. Then you discover she is who she is but so many questions, the most basic ones you Actually, 3.5 but I need to round it down for the following reasons. 1. It is a very good book, but not the page-turner, intense true war story advertised in the praise of the back cover. The pace is slower than I expected and the sequentially described perspectives of the different characters break the rhythm. 2. The first 100+ pages were frustrating for me because I could not figure out who the main character was. Then you discover she is who she is but so many questions, the most basic ones you can have on a character, remained unanswered for so long that it altered my reading experience. I don't know, maybe I missed it... Overall, I enjoyed this book and would highly recommend it to people interested in war journalism, Afghanistan, the post-9/11 world, etc. There is something that reminded me of L'orangeraie by Larry Tremblay and Whiskey Tango Foxtrot with Tina Fey. Not a bad combination in my book.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Ellen Shachter

    I learned of Into the Sun after hearing the author speak at a panel on Literature of War at the 2016 Boston Book Festival. The book is a fictionalized story of a group of ex pats in Afghanistan. It explores the different reasons why foreigners come to a war zone.....what they intend, how they are perceived and what they do or dont accomplish. The story is compelling with elements of mystery, drama and intrigue. The story goes back and forth in time and place as a journalist investigates the deat I learned of Into the Sun after hearing the author speak at a panel on Literature of War at the 2016 Boston Book Festival. The book is a fictionalized story of a group of ex pats in Afghanistan. It explores the different reasons why foreigners come to a war zone.....what they intend, how they are perceived and what they do or dont accomplish. The story is compelling with elements of mystery, drama and intrigue. The story goes back and forth in time and place as a journalist investigates the death of three ex pats and their driver from a car bomb. Definately a gripping and compelling read and a goid reminder of how US involvement in the Middle East is perceived by those we are "aiding"....

  18. 4 out of 5

    Madeleine B. Torrisi

  19. 4 out of 5

    Mike

  20. 4 out of 5

    Andréanne Chevalier

  21. 4 out of 5

    Biblionorth

  22. 4 out of 5

    Émilie

  23. 4 out of 5

    Sean MacDonald

  24. 5 out of 5

    T.M. Spooner

  25. 4 out of 5

    Patrick Grenon

  26. 4 out of 5

    Myriam Vignola

  27. 5 out of 5

    Kari Miller

  28. 5 out of 5

    Stéphanie

  29. 5 out of 5

    Kazuya Sakakihara

  30. 4 out of 5

    Kelly

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