Sunday, December 13, 2009

Top 60 Novels of 2000-2009 Countdown, No. 18

Prisoners of War by Steve Yarbrough

I first encountered Yarbrough when he visited a creative writing class I was taking at the University of Nevada in 1999. He had just published The Oxygen Man, which I read after he came to class. Since then I've followed his career, even before I moved to the region of which he writes -- the Deep South (although all his books are set in Mississippi). I liked Visible Spirits and The End of California, but Prisoners of War, I feel, was his most complete work -- a panoramic portrait of a town and the German prisoners of war camp it contains. He goes beyond the obvious parallels between segregation and Nazism to develop a host of fascinating characters full of yearnings, and how their stories entwine beneficially or tragically. Despite the many trapped and warped people who inhabit the town of Loring, hope and escape remain a possibility.  

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