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What would make a soldier betray his country?
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. Traitor is that rarest of things: a work of fiction that will transport the reader, heart and soul, into another realm.
Listen to Stephen discuss Traitor on ABC Radio National’s special Anzac Day Breakfast show.
Stephen Daisley’s Traitor is one of the finest debut novels I have read. Indeed it’s
one of the best novels I have read in recent years.
Daisley’s prose possesses a shimmering, allusive beauty reminiscent of John McGahern. Sequences such as the stunning description of the ageing David’s journey out into a rainy morning to supervise the lambing lend the novel an almost sacred quality.
Daisley’s Traitor is suffused with love, beauty and loneliness. The creation and development of the character of David Monroe is masterful, not least because he is a man of so few words.
Terrific debut from NZ writer based in Australia. One soldier’s act of courageous compassion at Gallipoli sees him branded a traitor. But who betrayed whom? Exquisitely crafted and beautifully written.
‘This impressive work moves from the world of sheep farming in New Zealand to
the battlefields of Gallipoli, telling a story of war, love and transformation.’