Harper Press £7.99
The Lotus Eaters, By Tatjana Soli
Moral ambiguity brought into sharper focus
Reviewed by David Evans
Sunday, 23 January 2011
Tatjana Soli's debut novel begins amid the chaos of the US withdrawal from Saigon in 1975.
Helen, a photojournalist, and Linh, her injured lover, battle through the crowds to board an evacuation helicopter. But then Helen jumps out, desperate for a few final photographs, and leaves Linh to escape alone. It is a masterful opening, with a strikingly cinematic style: fitting for a book that examines how the camera lens refracts reality. As Helen becomes inured to the horrors of conflict, Soli explores the moral ambiguity of war photography: her bold and haunting novel evokes the ghoulishness of the profession and the peculiar detachment it requires.