Author: Lucy Cruickshanks
UK – Quercus
In Vietnam in the early 1980s, the legacy of the American War still weighs heavily and life under the Hanoi regime is corrupted and precarious. Alexander, a US soldier traumatised by his time at war and now running from his past, is posing as a Russian entrepreneur, embroiled in the darkest business of all. Having fallen under the stewardship of a man known only as the Herder, Alexander earns his living procuring young women – as prostitutes, wives, mistresses and maids – for wealthy businessmen, or for others to whom love and service are simple transactions. For too long, Alexander has tricked himself into thinking that he is helping these girls, escorting them to lives outside of poverty and degradation, and atoning for the wrong he has done. Now, though, he is waking up: he knows he is manipulative, calculating, and far too good at his job. Very little of his old humanity survives. It is time to become something better.