Glorious Boy

Red Hen. May 2020. 344p. ISBN 9781597098892. pap. $19.95. F
Liu’s eponymous “glorious boy” exists at the intersection of families, communities, countries, cultures—and, for a while, life and death. His spirited, adventurous parents—Shep, a British doctor obsessed with the healing power of indigenous plants, and the American Claire, a would-be anthropologist without an official degree—arrive in 1936 in the remote Andaman Islands in India’s Bay of Bengal. Ty is born into their near-idyllic paradise, colonial as it is, and is beloved by all. But his closest attachment is to the servants’ daughter Naila, who is eight years older. For his first four years, the silent Ty trusts only Naila to be his voice. By 1942, war threatens even the most remote shores and all (white) ex-pats are ordered to evacuate the islands. Hours before departure, Ty and Naila disappear, leaving Shep search after frantically thrusting a forcibly drugged Claire onto the final rescue ship bound for Calcutta. Reunion is the only goal that keeps Claire alive: Absolutely nothing—even code-breaking-and-creating and impossible reconnaissance (go, girl!)—will prevent her from finding her husband and son.
VERDICT A riveting amalgam of history, family epic, anticolonial/antiwar treatise, cultural crossroads, and more, this latest from best-selling author Liu (Face) is a fascinating, irresistible marvel.
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