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Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Debut author a thought-provoking speaker

Making moral choices

“I’m not a political person,” proclaimed Stephen Dau at the packed Public Library Association panel “Meet This Season’s Best in Debut Authors,” a new event initiated by Penguin library rep Alan Walker.

At first, it seemed like a surprising assertion, as his debut, The Book of Jonas, features a 15-year-old in an unnamed Muslim country orphaned when American troops decimate his village.

Stephen Dau has worked in postwar reconstruction and international development, including time spent in Sarajevo, so he understands the consequences of war for everyone involved. He was inspired to write this book when, back in 2003, he heard President George W. Bush respond to a question about civilian deaths in Iraq by saying offhandedly, “around 30,000,” as if it were a bowling score. Dau felt compelled to tell their stories, which he does here by focusing on 15-year-old Younis, who escapes the slaughter in his village with the help of an American soldier named Christopher.

But, as h went on to explain, his real aim was to speak hopefully of individual responsibility, particularly in the face of daunting moral choice.
Read the review of his book on Library Journal.

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