From Publishers Weekly
A young reporter embarks on a dangerous adventure in Salak's gripping debut novel, a blend of Heart of Darkness
and Tomb Raider
. Like her protagonist, Marika Vecera, award-winning journalist Salak has traveled solo—and narrowly escaped death—in the world's most remote and terrifying places, including war-torn Congo and the interior of Papua New Guinea. Marika, an ambitious journalist, travels to discover the truth about war correspondent Robert Lewis, who has observed some of the modern world's greatest atrocities. He is believed to have committed suicide, but a letter from a missionary leaves Marika thinking he may still be alive in the wilds of Papua New Guinea. She sets off on her quest, and eventually malaria, ritual murder and arduous trekking through the wilderness lead Marika to some startling discoveries and a pathway out of her own past trauma. While the book can be harrowing (the graphic descriptions of torture are sobering and hard to put out of mind), it offers Marika a redemptive optimism in the face of the worst humanity has to offer. (Aug.)
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Marika Vecera is a freelance correspondent, available to cover all the world’s wars and atrocities, hooked on the danger and anguished thrill of bringing news of incredible inhumanities to safer parts of the world. She herself is familiar with senseless suffering; she lost her father, a Czech dissident writer, to murder by the state. After coming too close to her own death in Congo, Marika returns to the tentative home she has made in Boston and meets Sebastian Gilman, a professor who tries to humanize her. But, eventually, she sets off again, this time to Papua New Guinea, to complete a biography of Robert Lewis, the Pulitzer-winning writer who inspired her own career. Her guide, Tobo, is skeptical of “the white mary,” who, in her noisy restlessness, fails to understand the most basic relationships between people and place. In search of Robert Lewis, Marika comes face-to-face with her own fears in the harshest test of faith and her ability to survive. Salak, herself a war correspondent, brings to life the incredible internal struggles for witnesses and reporters of war atrocities. --Vanessa Bush