Well-Founded Fear

Well-Founded Fear - Cover
Well-Founded Fear - Cover

Well-Founded Fear


Book synopsis below...

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"In the fierce unfinished business of Kurdistan, Tom LeClair has found the documentary edge and human center that makes Well-Founded Fear a resourceful and moving work of fiction." - Don DeLillo

"...the story is compelling, as much psychodrama as thriller." - Publishers Weekly

"...[A] heartfelt plea for deeper insight into the Kurdish tragedy." - Kirkus Reviews

"This is more than an engrossing thriller and global adventure. The end of the Cold War has not only redrawn the map of the world, it has uprooted multitudes who are seeking better lives in places where they aren't wanted. Tom LeClair has opened a window on this world so we can see into the souls of people we would be wise not to ignore." - Mark Frits, author of Lost on Earth: Nomads of the New World

"Chilling and authentic. A novel about political asylum, about a forgotten people, and about the trust between individuals that is the most fragile sanctuary of all." - Joseph McElroy, author of Women and Men

"Tom LeClair insightfully brings our attention to the most neglected people on earth, the Kurds, and while he entertains us with a fast-paced drama he deepens our ability for compassion with his authentic understanding of suffering." - Josip Novakovich, author of Apricots for Chernobyl

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Tom LeClair, professor of English at the University of Cincinnati, New York Times book reviewer, commentator and novelist, is intimately familiar with the issues of Kurdistan and the Middle East. Once a province of the Ottoman Empire, this home of an ancient mountain people, the Kurds, known for their good looks and vigorous nationalism, was divided amongst Turkey, Syria, Iraq and Iran by Britain and France after World War I. It was a shameful action seemingly aimed at obstructing their continuing efforts for independence. Each of these countries acquired a potentially rebellious region.

This is a romantic political novel with the love interests entwined with the political issues and insights into Kurdish life. LeClair creates the story of Casey Mahan. She is a lawyer from Cincinnati with the UN High Commission on Refugees. She finds herself in Greece with an office in Athens ten years after “the Anfal,” or the genocide of Kurds in Iraq by the Saddam Hussein government. Early in her post, she meets and interviews Ziba Mamozin, an attractive and intelligent Kurdish girl who was educated in the United States. While living in Turkey, however, she was tortured by the police who were looking for her brother. Casey realizes that Ziba, dead fluent in English and very good in two Kurdish languages and a third local dialect, should be a find as an interpreter. This happens and they become friends. They deal with Kurds fleeing persecution by Turkish law enforcement. She meets Osman, Ziba’s brother, who is a fugitive accused of treason in Turkey.

The dangerous relationship becomes romantic. Whenever they meet, they find a bed. She is assigned to a trip into a Kurdish area of Turkey. She meets others and sees the lands that influence the Kurdish view of life. Finally, Casey uses her position to generate fake papers to get Osman to America taking some risks herself. At least there he would be safe. But in America, Osman pursues a revenge killing. The relationship unwinds after she follows him.

LeClair introduces the 21st Century Kurdish presence in the Middle East where this long suppressed people have an opportunity to establish alliances that could realize their long sought ambitions. He also hints at a lurking problem – their own lack of unity.