Kabul: Ten years after 9/11. Dismembered by decades of war and jerry-rigged by foreign aid, the city is flooded by journalists, relief workers, and messianic idealists living cheek by jowl in sterile compounds. They throw parties, sell their stories before they happen, trying to save others and redeem themselves. Outsiders addicted to the compulsive thrill of self-invention in a dangerously unstable country, they believe they are at the very frontier of history.
When a car explodes in a crowded city street, journalist Michiko Oketani is shocked to discover that its passengers were acquaintancesa tawdry love trianglefrom expat circles. Alexandra was a human rights lawyer for imprisoned Afghan women; Justin, a born-again Christian from Louisiana, taught at a local school; and Clay, an inscrutable ex-soldier, worked for a private contractor. The car’s driver, Idris, one of Justin’s most promising pupils, is missing.
Drawn to the secret fabrications of these strangers, and increasingly convinced the events that led to the fatal explosion weren’t random, Michiko follows a paper trail that leads beyond Kabul to Louisiana, Maine, Québec, and Dubai. As the investigation deepens, Michiko’s research steadily uncovers old grudges and secret traumas, private desires that have public consequences. The victims’ fictions of omission make each complicit in his or her own death.
In a city of contesting accounts, the American state’s manipulation of the war narrativewrit large on an international stageis undercut by the innumerable, privately manipulated narratives running in and through each individual life. Though Afghanistan is occupied territory, Kabul belongs to the people that live there: to the hungry, determined, and resourceful locals who are just as willing as their occupiers to reinvent themselves to survive.
In this monumental novel, prize-winning author Deni Ellis Béchard draws an unsentimental, portrait of those who flock to warzones. In the author’s knowledgeable hands, Kabula city that has long haunted the American psycheis viscerally brought to life as a maze of potholed streets, gritty air, frigid concrete, and continuous violence. Despite the hostility of its setting, Into the Sun hunts for the connections that underlie the apparent tragic randomness of restless lives with a belief in the human need for stories, no matter how flawed.