Magazine article The New Yorker

Briefly Noted

Magazine article The New Yorker

Briefly Noted

Article excerpt

Briefly Noted

Refuge, by Dina Nayeri (Riverhead). At the age of eight, Niloo, the protagonist of this poignant, agile novel, fled Iran with her mother and brother for the United States; her father stayed behind. Niloo sees him only four times in the next twenty years, each visit more painful than the last, as he remarries and succumbs to opium addiction. After Niloo marries a Frenchman and moves to Amsterdam, she begins to feel increasingly alienated from her husband and from their neighbors, and becomes involved with a community of recent Iranian immigrants "whose accents are still fine and whose memories of home are clear and unwarped." Nayeri's prose is sometimes overwrought, but her exploration of the exile's predicament is tender and urgent.

We Shall Not All Sleep, by Estep Nagy (Bloomsbury). Set against the backdrop of the McCarthy years, this novel explores the turbulent relationship between two families who have summered in Maine for generations, and are related through marriage, but who now rarely mingle. The action, some of which occurs in flashback, is dramatic: a father leaves his young son on an outlying island overnight, to toughen him up; a family patriarch is dismissed from the C.I.A. under murky circumstances; a woman breaks off a burgeoning sexual relationship with the husband of her dead sister, who was driven to suicide by an anti-Communist witch hunt. Nagy deftly captures the way a political atmosphere of mistrust and manipulation can color even the most private interactions. …

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