Homeward Bound

redstar Beah, Ishmael. Radiance of Tomorrow. Sarah Crichton: Farrar. Jan. 2014. 256p. ISBN 9780374246020. $25; ebk. ISBN 9780374709433. F

For Mama Kadie, returning to her village, Imperi, after the seven-year civil war in Sierra Leone, home is the dirt sifting between her toes and the scent of coffee flowers. For Pa Moiwa, it is burying the bones of those who did not escape the destruction. Slowly, others return, hoping to mend the fabric of lives sundered by war. First Bockarie and later Benjamin, former teachers in the village, arrive with their families. Then Sila and his children, missing arms and hands, find acceptance there. Even Colonel, leading a band of former child soldiers seeking to reclaim their humanity, is embraced by the elders. But hardship persists. Bockarie and Benjamin work months without a paycheck while the school principal cooks the books. A mining company rapes their land yet entices villagers with big salaries while downplaying horrific working conditions. Still, each physically and psychically damaged person in Imperi will learn to trust again. VERDICT Beah, who broke our hearts with the haunting memoir of his life as a boy soldier (Long Way Gone), will render readers speechless with the radiance of his storytelling in this novel of grace, forgiveness, and a vision of a tomorrow without conflict. [See Prepub Alert, 7/8/13.]—Sally Bissell, Lee Cty. Lib. Syst., Fort Myers, FL

de Waal, Elisabeth. The Exiles Return. Picador. Jan. 2014. 336p. ISBN 9781250045782. $26; ebk. ISBN 9781250045799. F

Exile Kuno Adler, a fiftyish research pathologist now living in New York, decides to leave behind an unhappy marriage and two grown daughters to return to his native Austria, where post–World War II restitution and reparation laws allow him to resume his former laboratory position and where he manages to reconnect with some old acquaintances. His homecoming coincides with that of two others: Theophil Kanakis, a Greek millionaire who arrives from America with the dream of purchasing a derelict palace that he can restore to its former glory and in which he may entertain the rich and famous and Marie-Theres, the dreamy and disaffected American daughter of an Austrian princess, whose beauty is her eventual undoing. These three stories eventually come together in a sensational conclusion. VERDICT De Waal’s grandson Edmund de Waal (The Hare with Amber Eyes) has succeeded in publishing his grandmother’s posthumously discovered manuscript 75 years after the 1938 Anschluss that dislocated his family. This elegant novel should appeal to readers who admire the European stylishness of war-era books such as Irène Némirovsky’s Suite Française and Tatiana de Rosnay’s Sarah’s Key. [See Prepub Alert, 7/22/13.]—Barbara Love, Kingston ­Frontenac P.L., Ont.