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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 140004233X, Hardcover)Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Lorraine Adams has crafted a debut novel worthy of any seasoned novelist's pen. Harbor is as current as the headlines, chronicling the desperate, confused, marginal lives of a group of Arab Muslims in Boston, Montreal, and Brooklyn. Aziz Arkoun arrives in Boston Harbor after 52 days as a stowaway in the hold of a tanker. He swims to shore through icy waters, arriving ill and disoriented. His experience is comparable to that of the Guatemalan immigrants in "El Norte": what he finds when he arrives is only slightly better than what he left, but at least he is not in immediate danger of being killed. Adams does a masterful job of rendering Aziz's confusion as he confronts a strange language in an almost unknowable world, tries to suss out what illegal goings-on his cousin is up to, sleeps in a chair a few hours a night, and works in a low-paying job for a brutish boss.
Threaded through the ongoing narrative is the backstory of what Aziz escaped: forced military service in the Algerian army, a chance role as a double agent which almost gets him killed and causes him to desert, and the ordinary, everyday horror of a bloody ground war. After deserting the army, he goes home, only to have his double agency discovered, which puts him on the run again, this time to Boston Harbor. At 24, he is a veteran in every sense of the word. Somehow, he retains an insouciance and innocence through it all. Not so his roommates.
Adams raises the question: "Who is a terrorist?" What makes this book irresistible is that there is no easy answer. Is it the one reading ancient Persian poems or the Qu'uran, or the one stealing Batman toys to resell at a profit? What we are stuck with is what an FBI agent says: "...we don't have to know them. We can't, ever. We can just piece together something here with something there and draw logical conclusions. It's flawed, of course it's flawed. But it's better than the alternative." --ValerieRyan
(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:15:34 -0400)
"We first meet Aziz Arkoun as a twenty-four-year-old stowaway - frozen, hungry, his perceptions jammed by a language he can't understand or speak. After fifty-two days in the hold of a tanker from Algeria, he jumps into the icy waters of Boston harbor and swims to shore. Seemingly rescued from isolation by Algerians he knew as a child, he instead finds himself in a world of disillusionment, duplicity, and stolen identities, living a raw comedy of daily survival not unlike what he fled back home." "As the story of Aziz and his friends unfolds - moving from the hardscrabble neighborhoods of East Boston and Brooklyn to a North African army camp - Harbor makes vivid the ambiguities of these men's past and present lives: burying a murdered girl in the Sahara, reading medieval Persian poetry on a bus, passing for Mexican, shoplifting Versace for clubbing, succumbing to sex in a public library, impersonating a double agent. But when Aziz begins to suspect that he and his friends are under surveillance, all assumptions - his and ours - dissolve in an urgent, mesmerizing complexity. And as Harbor races to its explosive conclusion, it compels us to question the questions it raises: Who are the terrorists? Can we recognize them? How do they live?"--BOOK JACKET.
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