In the Orchard, The Swallows, is a slim, lyrical book that can be read in a sitting or two, about a young man released from a Pakistani prison after more than a decade. Now, the boy he was gone, and the man he could have been ceased to exist, he must figure out who he is and how he will survive, not just day to day but how to make a life when everything about himself has been shattered, reformed and remade.
Peter Hobbs writes the book as a series of letters to Saba, the girl he knew and the inadvertent cause of his imprisonment. The two were infatuated with each other as teens though separated by custom and class. Her father has the boy arrested and sent away, and the boy stays in prison for years, becoming a man. Then one day, just like that, he's released and dumped by the side of the road. He makes his way back home and a kindly neighbor takes him in and takes care of him, until he's ready to begin taking care of himself.
He has a long way to go, and Hobbs makes no bones about the abuse he's suffered and the difficulty of his recovery in both physical and psychological terms. But there's hope, and there's a future, even if he doesn't quite know what that future will hold. I would recommend In the Orchard for readers of Atiq Rahimi and Khaled Hosseini. It's a little gem.
It's my second book for the 2014 Europa Challenge.