Now Featured in the Patheos Book Club
A Land Without Sin: A Novel
By Paula Huston
What People Are Saying
One of Publishers Weekly's Best Summer Books 2013
"Eva Kovic is a war photographer whose brother Stefan, a priest, has disappeared amid revolutionary unrest in southern Mexico in 1993. She goes to find him but hides her mission by taking a job as a photographer with a Dutch archeologist who specializes in the Maya. Both Eva and the Mayanist are not what they seem, and their stories unroll in Central American jungles, crossing time and continents as Eva's family history and the archeologist's wife become key parts of the narrative tapestry. Eva is a hard case, slow to reveal anything but toughness; her absent brother is present in the narrative through his letters that Eva reads, so the emotional foothold offered readers is small at first. But the story deepens slowly, and its themes of war and family are profound and insistent, with tenacious hope eventually gaining a foothold. Huston (Daughters of Song) reels the reader in slowly, with subtle characterization and small clues planted early. A wonderful book for church book clubs; Huston takes God, the burden of history, and religion's big questions seriously."
"In the jungles of southern Mexico, a revolution is brewing. As tensions escalate between wealthy landowners and poverty-stricken peasants, local priest Stefan Kovic disappears. The church's failure to locate Stefan prompts his sister, Eva, a seasoned photojournalist, to take up the cause. To safely travel in the area, Eva takes a job with Jan, a local Mayan expert doing research nearby and, it turns out, on a secret quest of his own. Guided by a series of letters Stefan left behind, Eva travels deeper into the jungle, her growing uncertainty overshadowed by her fear for Stefan's safety and driven by her need to understand the revelations contained within the mysterious letters. In a journey reminiscent of Conrad's Heart of Darkness, Huston's characters travel a variety of difficult roads, away from all that is known and toward something that brings each far more than any of them bargained for. The novel, which takes readers deep into a land close at hand but worlds away, is a thought-provoking yet familiar journey honoring family, friendship, and the many unexpected paths of self-discovery."
"In A Land Without Sin Paula Huston has written a novel that's wise and wry, tragic and tender, and altogether thrilling. Both moved and enthralled, I couldn't stop reading."
—Robert Clark, author of In the Deep Midwinter and Love Among the Ruins
"Huston treads where few writers dare, jumping fearlessly into the roiling cauldron of factious Central American politics, class, culture, and religions. No doubt it would have been easier to write a mere gloss, a panoramic report describing the horror of war, revolution, grinding poverty, and the inevitable human carnage. However, the lens through which Huston sees penetrates far deeper than a perusal of these surface wounds to examine the limits of family loyalty, faith, and the causes and cure of hatred. A Land Without Sin is a compelling narrative that leaves me both haunted and hungry for more."
—Gina Ochsner, author of People I Wanted to Be and The Russian Dreambook of Color and Flight
"With some of the sheer excitement of H. Rider Haggard's King Solomon's Mines and the depth of soulful inquiry of Graham Greene's The Power and the Glory, Paula Huston's A Land Without Sin is a savvy look at the violent struggles in southern Mexico over the last quarter century and a vivid perspective on the hopes and perils of liberation theology. It is a poignant and splendid book."
—Ron Hansen, author of Mariette in Ecstasy and Atticus
9/1/2013 4:00:00 AM