Last month Stephen Daisley’s searing debut novel Traitor was shortlisted for Best First Book in the South East Asia and Pacific region, and it was announced this week that the regional winner was New Zealand author Craig Cliff, for his short story collection A Man Melting. But we’re as pleased and proud as possible for Stephen, who is appearing at Perth Writers Festival this weekend, and we figured it was high time Traitor was featured as our Friday Book Club Pick.
In the battle-smoke and chaos of Gallipoli, a young New Zealand soldier helps a Turkish doctor fighting to save a boy’s life. Then a shell bursts nearby; the blast that should have killed them both consigns them instead to the same military hospital. Mahmoud is a Sufi. A whirling dervish, he says, of the Mevlevi order. He tells David stories. Of arriving in London with a pocketful of dried apricots. Of Majnun, the man mad for love, and of the saint who flew to paradise on a lion skin. You are God, we are all gods, Mahmoud tells David; and a bond grows between them.
A bond so strong that David will betray his country for his friend.
Stephen Daisley’s astonishing debut novel is a story of war and of love—how each changes everything, forever. Evoking horror and beauty and a profound sense of the possibility of transformation, Traitor is that rarest of things: a work of fiction that will transport the reader, heart and soul, into another realm.