It's been too long since we've read a new book by Bob Shacochis. Fourteen years, in fact, since his last book, a brilliant non-fiction account of the U.S. intervention in Haiti called The Immaculate Invasion. And twenty-one years since his last fiction, the National Book Award finalist Swimming in the Volcano.
His fat new novel, The Woman Who Lost Her Soul, recently arrived and as you read and savor it, you know it's been stewing for a long time. It's every bit as rich and dark and refined and compelling as we could hope, and it was an honor to welcome him to Turnrow last week as he passed through the state promoting the book.Shacochis set his new novel among the world's most torn-assunder locales, but he writes with such ebullience and casual brilliance that the reader never feels defeated. If anything, we may envy these troubled characters and their romantic, globe-trotting adventures, no matter how dire things get, nor how damaged they seem. Imagine the sophisticated world-view of Graham Greene crossed with the high-ball musings and sensual appreciation of Jim Harrison and you'll start to get the picture.
The "woman" of the title is Dorothy Kovacevic (a.k.a. Jackie Scott, a.k.a. Renee Gardner), a gorgeous, mysterious, presumed photojournalist in Haiti at the book's opening. Something has happened to this woman, and a humanitarian lawyer named Tom Harrington has been called down to help unravel the strange circumstances. In digging through the clues with a haggard private investigator, Harrington must confront his previous relationship with this woman, who is, like everyone else in this novel, not exactly who they seem or profess to be.
The rest of the book dives into this woman's complex family history, which is as difficult and uncertain as the cultures across which these stories play out, from Nazi-controlled Yugoslavia to Cold War-era Turkey, and finally pre-9/11 America. Secrets begin to reveal themselves, and we start to understand why this mysterious woman has lost her soul, and we appreciate why we can't get enough of her.Shacochis signed our copies of The Woman Who Lost Her Soul. We hope you'll grab a copy and make a long indulgent weekend out of it, reading with a little rum as summer falls away in tatters.