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The Lotus Eaters, By Tatjana Soli

Moral ambiguity brought into sharper focus

Tatjana Soli's debut novel begins amid the chaos of the US withdrawal from Saigon in 1975.

Helen, a photojournalist, and Linh, her injured lover, battle through the crowds to board an evacuation helicopter. But then Helen jumps out, desperate for a few final photographs, and leaves Linh to escape alone. It is a masterful opening, with a strikingly cinematic style: fitting for a book that examines how the camera lens refracts reality. As Helen becomes inured to the horrors of conflict, Soli explores the moral ambiguity of war photography: her bold and haunting novel evokes the ghoulishness of the profession and the peculiar detachment it requires.