Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Tatjana Soli & The Lotus Eaters

The New York Times has taken note of local Orange County author Tatjana Soli and her debut novel, The Lotus Eaters - Soli will be making local appearances next week.

This past Monday Janet Maslin offered a thoughtful review.


Tatjana Soli’s haunting debut novel begins where it ought to end. In this quietly mesmerizing book about journalists covering the war in Vietnam, the first glimpses of the place are the most familiar. The year is 1975. Americans are in a state of panic as North Vietnamese forces prepare to occupy Saigon. The looters, the desperate efforts to escape this war zone, the mobs surrounding the United States Embassy, the overcrowded helicopters struggling to rise above the chaos: these images seem to introduce Ms. Soli’s readers to a story they already know.

Her protagonist is Helen Adams, a war photographer. As Helen makes her way toward the embassy with a wounded Vietnamese man named Linh, she surveys the ruins of her own wartime experience. A friend is missing, and that friend’s shop has been looted. Refugees are everywhere. And Sam Darrow, the charismatic, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist who has meant everything to Helen, is long gone. He died at some point in Helen’s tumultuous Vietnam tenure.

Ms. Soli thus creates a serious challenge for her narrative. How is she to breathe life into a book that has already answered the most pertinent questions about its characters? Her extremely successful way of surmounting this obstacle is to lead readers into the naïve, unformed mind of the newly arrived Helen, who, way back in 1965, barely understood her talents or her professional raison d’être. “The Lotus Eaters” expands along with her as she grows into her expert photojournalist’s role.

To read the rest, click here.

Then in the NYT blog, Paper Cuts, Soli offers a playlist - "a soundtrack," she says, "to the emotional landscape of the book." To check it out, click here.

Her readings:
Wednesday April 7 at 7 PM at the Tustin Public Library at 345 E. Main Street in Tustin.

Sunday April 11 at 4 PM at Laguna Beach Books. With Gabrielle Burton.


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