Publisher: Ignatius Press
Jan Skala has been arrested and imprisoned by the Russian liberators of Prague, but he does not know why. Or does he?
During the Nazi occupation of the city, the journalist stayed above ground and continued to work for his father's newspaper, which had fallen into the hands of the Gestapo. What must the Russians think of Jan? But more importantly, what does Jan think of himself?
The intriguing characters sharing his detention facility all have a backstory, but Jan cannot be sure if any of them is telling the truth. And what about Jan? Is he who he claims to be? Although the business of daily survival begins to trump every other concern, the men nevertheless struggle to understand their fate.
Iota is a poignant drama about what men believe and how they might act accordingly. The story takes place during a two-month period immediately following World War II, in a temporary Soviet detention facility near a devastated Berlin. It is a mystery-suspense story about what it means to be human and whether it is possible to retain one's humanity in the face of evil.
Publication Date: 2014-10-07
Dimensions: 9.4 x 6.2 x 0.9 inches
"Iota is a plunge into the darkest waters of human motivation and character. Set in a political prison at the end of World War II, the story of the 'cage' is also a metaphor for the imprisonment of minds and souls in various forms of unbelief. It is ultimately about redemption, sacrifice, and mercy." - Michael D. O'Brien, Author, Fr. Elijah: An Apocalypse
"A gripping read. The atmosphere of tension, squalor and fear is brilliantly sustained and the plot has thrilling twists right to the end." --Lucy Beckett, Author, Postcard from the Volcano
"This compelling story reads like an eyewitness account. At times moving, harrowing and genuinely terrifying, Doran's Iota asks unsettling questions about the nature of innocence, guilt, courage and complicity. I simply could not put it down." --Fiorella De Maria, Author, Do No Harm
"The urge to track down and bring to justice is a powerful one. We see it at work here in Iota. In the end, we learn what we ought to do by not doing what we set out to do." --James V. Schall, S. J., Author, Reasonable Pleasures
T.M. Doran, an adjunct professor of civil engineering at Lawrence Technological University, received Bachelor and Master of Science Degree from Purdue University. Born in Long Beach, California, the author has lived the great majority of his life in Michigan. An engineer and educator, he has had a lifelong passion for the mystery genre and for writing. He earned the Purdue University Alumni Achievement Award for his work in the engineering profession, was elected to the Engineering Society of Detroit College of Fellows, and was a partner in the 97-year old firm of Hubbell, Roth & Clark. He and Sherry have been married for 35 years and have four children: Angela, Brendan, Elise, and Javier (their Basque son); also, three beautiful grandchildren: Zachary, Declan, and Noah.
Iota: A Novel, by T.M. Doran (2014, Ignatius Press) is a slim book that made me think out of all proportion to the number of words.
Doran has once again taken over my mind (his previous novels include Toward the Gleam and Terrapin) and planted seeds that I'll be recollecting for months, at minimum.
Set as a flashback to 1945, Iota is told from the viewpoint of Jan Skala. Unexpectedly, Skala is arrested by the Russians occupying Czechloslavakia after the defeat of the Nazis.
Therein lies what may be an examination of conscience. I thought at first this was a book about the horrors of war (and it is), about the abuse we inflict on others (surely also true), and about discrepancy between the truth as it seems to us and the truth as it is objectively (again, it is).
Upon finishing the book, though, I found myself struck by the message of mercy, which is demonstrated and shown.
After months of imprisonment, abuse, and torture at the hands of his captors, Skala experiences a slow, gradual change of view. Suddenly, something he doesn't expect happens, something that shocks him and that he can't explain.
He also can't turn away from it.
In that moment, when he chooses, he finds mercy...and yet, the book's not over. There's another surprise waiting, and another perusal of truth as it seems and as it might be.
(Yes, I'm being vague about plot points. I don't want to ruin the surprise for you as a reader!)
This is the kind of current writing that I would like to see high schoolers reading and discussing. For that matter, this is the kind of book I'd like to see adults reading and discussing.
In my young teen years, I read Cold War novels by the dozen. I was horrified and intrigued by the adventure and torture. This book reminded me of those books, with the difference that this has a deeper meaning and not just a "win" at the end.
Definitely worth reading and sharing!