Hear Our Defeats
Publisher: Europa Editions
A “propulsive” historical novel about the battles—won, lost, and ongoing—that define us, from a winner of the Goncourt Prize (Library Journal, starred review).
Assem, a French intelligence officer, is tasked with tracking down a former member of the US Special Forces suspected of drug trafficking during the war in Afghanistan. En route to Beirut, he shares a night with Mariam, an Iraqi archaeologist, who is in a race against time to save ancient artifacts across the Middle East from the destruction wreaked by ISIS.
Woven into these two forceful, gripping storylines are meditations on humankind’s bellicose history—Hannibal’s failed march on Rome and the burning of his fleet on the waters of the Mediterranean; Grant’s pursuit of the Confederates into rural Virginia; Robert E. Lee’s surrender at Appomattox Courthouse; and Emp. Haile Selassie’s swift retreat from Ethiopia: all turning points in world history, each showing a different facet of how nations and individuals face defeat.
This novel is filled with both a philosophical sensibility and a riveting immediacy, seamlessly taking us across the battlefields of our past to reflect on the implications of conflicts being waged today.
“Hear Our Defeats is not a conventional historical novel, in the sense of trying to recreate the past imaginatively. Rather, it draws on a series of past episodes, from four discrete epochs—deliberately separated in time and place—to convey a message about time, violence and humanity.” —The Times Literary Supplement