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A powerful debut novel – a literary thriller of set in a fictional Asia, it asks whether we can truly escape from the past or from ourselves.
In 2007 over 400,000 people in Britain emigrated. Thousands more left a job, a bad relationship, an unsatisfying life, in order to travel. In The Icarus Diaries Kate Hoyland looks at how escapist dreams can turn sour.
Three strangers travel to Asia to escape their past. For a while the city seems tranquil, but soon they find themselves in a country experiencing violent political turmoil. Leaving the city with Van, a political dissident, they embark on a hazardous journey up river. As the dangers increase, bonds of friendship, trust and love develop and each reveals a story, but as they each confront what it is they had hoped to escape, political events come to a head.
“The Icarus Diaries is a gripping emotional and political thriller – a journey into a latter day heart of darkness. Three westerners fleeing torment in their personal lives are caught up in a political crisis in a remote southeast Asian country, ruled by an elderly and increasingly eccentric despot who has just banned Thursday from the calendar and renamed numerous streets after his lucky number, seven. As they flee inland, they are forced to face unexpected dangers, and at the same time to lower their defences towards one other. As they each confront what it is they had hoped to escape, political events come to a head. This sensitively-written novel combines a gallery of well-observed, colourful characters with a vivid cinematic quality. A striking and impressive literary debut…”
Kate Hoyland is a journalist and counsellor. For many years she was a producer at the BBC World Service, specialising in Asian and international news. She has worked across Asia – from Bangkok, to Beijing, to Seoul - and now lives in London with her young son, where she divides her time between writing, counselling, and training for the BBC.