PORT TOWNSEND — In T.C. Boyle’s 1990 novel, East is East, the reader is introduced to the central character, Hiro Tanaka, in the water.
Tanaka, whose father is American, has just jumped ship off the coast of Savannah, Ga., in search of the lost half of his heritage.
“He was swimming,” Boyle writes, “rotating from front to back, thrashing his arms and legs, and puffing up his cheeks.”
In Once in a Promised Land, we meet Jassim Haddad as he is swimming laps at a fitness center in a Tucson, Ariz., suburb.
A hydrologist from Jordan, Jassim has made a smoother entry into American waters, but like Tanaka, his character plunges the reader below the surface.
Seeing America refracted by the lens of another culture is the focus of Once in a Promised Land, this year’s selection of Port Townsend Library’s Community Read.