Perrin Ireland's debut novel yells the story of two women brought together by the galvanizing forces of war and imagination.
Anne is a privileged writer living in Cambridge and still tormented by a brutal act from her past. Ana is a cosmopolitan Muslim poet living in Sarajevo and enjoying a comfortable middle-class existence. Both are irrevocably changed when the peace of Sarajevo is shattered by snipers' bullets. Anne glimpses Ana's battered face on an evening newscast and begins to wonder how she can possibly respond to this distant suffering.
Ana becomes the story that Anne is compelled to tell. The novel she undertakes—Ana Imagined—is a fast-moving, vivid account of Ana's everyday life, transformed overnight by war into a struggle for all that was once taken for granted: food, a night's sleep, an open window, a trip out for ice cream. But what begins as a wrenching tale of survival evolves into a haunting journey of discovery as Ana reveals a secret of her own. In an evocative exploration of the boundaries of compassion and love, we are left mesmerized by the fragility, and resilience, imbedded in the lives of these two women.
Reviews and Praise
"[A] brilliant debut." Minneapolis Star Tribune
"What a courageous first book ... Perrin Ireland has created a whole that is larger than the sum of its parts..." Los Angeles Times
"[A] powerful, and powerfully unsettling novel ... one of the most original works of art to have been inspired by the horror of Bosnia." Bob Shacochis
"Ireland's writing is lyrical ... Highly recommended." Library Journal
"Crosses borders of geography, nationality, and faith with the powers of imagination and compassion." Publisher's Weekly
"... shows the strength and determination that the human spirit can muster in the face of unreasoning violence, and it offers hope for the possibility of healing, both in the political arena and individually..." Booklist
"[A] powerful, heartbreaking novel." Denver Post
"[E]xtraordinary ... A wonderful novel—moving and memorable." Jill McCorkle
"Ireland proves remarkably agile and sensitive." Kirkus Reviews
"Ireland's spare, subtle, long-form debut displays the best kind of literary self-consciousness ... Ireland never gives in to melodrama, and her heroines compel precisely becaause they're too nervy to be victims." Boston Magazine
"[A] uniquely strong work." Tucson Weekly
"Perrin Ireland is a fearless writer and Ana Imagined is a novel of unusual imagination and depth. As the narrative shuttles betweeen Bosnia and Boston, she introduces us to two splended heroines and forces us to consider once again the perilous intersection of public and private history. A remarkable debut." Margot Livesey