Originally from Western Pennsylvania, Stephen Dau attended the University of Pittsburgh before working in post-war reconstruction in the Balkans and international philanthropy in Washington DC. He subsequently studied creative writing at Johns Hopkins University and received an MFA from the Bennington Writing Seminars. In addition to his debut novel, The Book of Jonas, his work has appeared in The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, McSweeney’s, and MSNBC, among other places. He lives in Brussels.
An exceptional debut novel about a young Muslim war orphan whose family is killed in a military operation gone wrong, and the American soldier to whom his fate, and survival, is bound.
Jonas is fifteen when his family is killed during an errant U.S. military operation in an unnamed Muslim country. With the help of an international relief organization, he is sent to America, where he struggles to assimilate-foster family, school, a first love. Eventually, he tells a court-mandated counselor and therapist about a U.S. soldier, Christopher Henderson, responsible for saving his life on the tragic night in question. Christopher's mother, Rose, has dedicated her life to finding out what really happened to her son, who disappeared after the raid in which Jonas' village was destroyed. When Jonas meets Rose, a shocking and painful secret gradually surfaces from the past, and builds to a shattering conclusion that haunts long after the final page. Told in spare, evocative prose, The Book of Jonas is about memory, about the terrible choices made during war, and about what happens when foreign disaster appears at our own doorstep. It is a rare and virtuosic novel from an exciting new writer to watch.
Reading level: Ages 18 and up