“This book won’t let the reader sleep…a rich and disturbing literary thriller.”
– Annie Proulx, author of Barkskins
“Steven Heighton writes with a beauty and a precision and a soul that’s always astounded me. He captures the shock and trauma of war in a way that only a novelist at the height of his powers can. And he captures mid-leap that act of giving oneself completely to another in all its fragility and fear and grace that only a poet at the height of his powers can.”
– Joseph Boyden, author of The Orenda
“This is a thrilling story, set in an abandoned and ‘forbidden’ village in Cyprus. Each character is uniquely drawn; the interactions between characters carefully nuanced. Steven Heighton creates an unexpected and absorbing cast, thrown together as a result of war and circumstance. He shows that despite the very real effects of trauma, individuals are capable of experiencing a world that can also be gentle, and forgiving. This is a book you will not put down!”
– Frances Itani, author of Deafening
From internationally acclaimed author Steven Heighton comes a passionate novel of buried secrets, the repercussions of war and finding love among the ruins
Elias Trifannis is desperate to belong somewhere. To make his dying ex-cop father happy, he joins the military – but in Afghanistan, by the time he realizes his last-minute bid for connection was a terrible mistake, it’s too late and a tragedy has occurred.
In the aftermath, exhausted by nightmares, Elias is sent to Cyprus to recover, where he attempts to find comfort in the arms of Eylul, a beautiful Turkish journalist. But the lovers’ reprieve ends in a moment of shocking brutality that drives Elias into Varosha, once a popular Greek-Cypriot resort town, abandoned since the Turkish invasion of 1974.
Hidden in the lush, overgrown ruins is a community of exiles and refugees living resourcefully but comfortably. Thanks to the cheerfully corrupt Colonel Kaya, who turns a blind eye, they live under the radar of the Turkish authorities.
As he begins to heal, Elias finds himself drawn to the enigmatic and secretive Kaiti while he learns at last to “simply belong.” But just when it seems he has found sanctuary, events he himself set in motion have already begun to endanger it.
“In North America today, there are few novelists like Heighton, an award-winning poet and essayist who also writes carefully plotted literary adventures—the kind in which disparate people come together in farflung places…Heighton is often compared to Joseph Conrad. It’s better, though, to say that he inherited a post-Conrad tradition, which extends from E. M. Forster to Graham Greene to John le Carré. These novelists were—and in le Carré’s case still are—literary practitioners and epic storytellers. They write about human psychology but also migration, authoritarianism, warfare, nationalism, and coups. They share a sense that you can’t understand humans separately from the world.”
– The Walrus