Days Without End and Mosul's Avengers

So fed up am I of buying books that I don't finish, that I decided I would go to the local library for a copy of Sebastian Barry's latest novel, Days Without End, which has just been awarded the Costa Prize. Unfortunately, I could only borrow it on the proviso that it was return by 1 February. I returned it the day after, without having finished it. I was about three quarters through, and will now have to go out and buy it for the final quarter. I loved Barry's The Secret Scripture, and on every publication of a new work, his star rises. Days Without End follows two boys, one descended from native Americans, and the other having arrived on one of the notorious coffin ships from famine struck Sligo. The tale is brave, funny, touching, but most of all Barry has achieved the perfect pitch. It is quite remarkable.

Another remarkable work comes in the form of reportage in the New Yorker (February 6, 2017) The Avengers of Mosul, by Luke Mogelson 'A Reporter at Large'.

Mogelson travels with an elite police SWAT team made up of mostly 'native sons of Mosul', who have something in common - they have either been injured or had family members maimed or slaughtered by IS. Their deputy commander is 46-year-old Major Mezher Sadoon, whom, Mogelson reports, 'had been shot in the face in Mosul, in 2004, and since then his jaw had been held together by four metal pins.'

Mogelson's incredibly humane and brave piece follows the SWAT team in their fight to banish Islamic State from Mosul. I haven't quite finished it yet, not only is it a substantial read, but I am having to read it slowly, following each thread of the narrative carefully, not wanting to skim any of it.  I should think that Mogelson will now have a firm place on the Pulitzer list as a result of bringing these brave men's attempts to fight IS to the larger world.

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