Literature and War Readalong October 28 2011: The Lotus Eaters by Tatjana Soli


Tatjana Soli’s The Lotus Eaters is another novel on the war in Vietnam that has received a lot of positive reviews. It cannot be called a classic as it only came out last year. So of all the books of this readalong it is by far the most recent. I really don’t know all that much about it and will therefore just add the blurb that should help you decide whether you’d like to read along or not.

As the fall of Saigon begins in 1975, two lovers make their way through the streets, desperately trying to catch one of the last planes out. Helen Adams, a photojournalist, must leave behind a war she has become addicted to and a devastated country she loves. Linh, her lover, must grapple with his own conflicting loyalties to the woman from whom he can’t bear to be parted, and his country.

Betrayal and self-sacrifice follows, echoing the pattern of their relationship over the war-torn years, beginning in the splendour of Angkor Wat, with jaded, cynical, larger-than-life war correspondent Sam Darrow, Helen’s greatest love and fiercest competitor, driven by demons she can only hope to vanquish.

Spurred on by the need to get the truth of the war out to an international audience, and the immense personal cost this carries, Sam and Helen’s passionate and all-consuming love is tested to the limit. This mesmerising novel carries resonance across contemporary wars with questions of love and heart-breaking betrayal interwoven with the conflict.

After having been so impressed by Tim O’Brien’s book I think I will explore more literature on the war in Vietnam in the future and I’m looking forward to read Soli’s novel.