After Disasters by Viet Dinh [in Booklist]
O. Henry Prize winner (2009) and first-time novelist Dinh drops four fictional characters into the tragic aftermath of the real-life January 2001 cataclysmic earthquake in Gujarat, India, as they travel from New York, London, and Delhi to attempt to save lives, including their own. The result is a tale that explores the efficacy of international aid, the price of survival, and the cost of love in an ever-shifting global world filled with conflict, catastrophes, and failed connections.
Ted and Piotr are part of the same New York Disaster Assistance Response Team, but couldn’t be more different. Ted, a former pharmaceutical marketing rep, wants to be “a better person,” while Piotr’s decades as a professional savior have left permanent, unbearable scars. Andy, from the UK Fire Services Search and Rescue Team, fights his greatest battles with himself. Dev, a doctor from Delhi, has traveled the fewest miles but finds he can never run far enough from his own true calling.
Thrown into violence and lawless chaos, one character will die, two will almost fall in love, three will leave, and all four will be forever changed. Make shelf space for Dinh’s stupendous debut, which is bound to appear on this year’s lists of award nominations and best-of compilations.