If you're going to publish a debut work of fiction, it's always good when said novel is named one of the 10 best books of the year by the Wall Street Journal.
So it was with Stephen Dau's "The Book of Jonas," published a year ago and still reaching new and astonished readers. The novel is about the titular 15-year-old boy in an unnamed Muslim country whose family was killed in an errant U.S. air strike. Jonas is sent to America to live with a Christian family in Pennsylvania - and the going is not easy. Unmercifully bullied and unable to emotionally handle his tragic past, Jonas struggles, eventually telling counselors about a U.S. soldier, Christopher Henderson, who saved his life.
This leads to Jonas meeting Henderson's mother - and buried secrets and emotional revelations gradually emerge.
Dau will read from and sign copies of "The Book of Jonas" Thursday at R.J. Julia's in Madison.
- RICK KOSTER
Stephen Dau, 7 Thursday, R.J. Julia, 786 Boston Post Road, Madison; free; (203) 245-3959, rjjulia.com.