In this course, we will study four novels written in the last decade that speak powerfully to our times. Not only are these novels critically acclaimed, they are also immensely popular. Dealing with spiritual drift, racial tension, conflicted romance, and unlikely hope, the stories are each quite different. Yet, they may all be examined in terms of how we confront the weight of historical corruption, violence, or tragedy. Can communal bonds, family ties, or romantic loves persevere in a world haunted by selfishness and fear? How does inherited abuse (whether emotional or physical) serve both to mould and fragment our sense of identity?
Are we defined by the past, or can art, myth, humour, wonder, even the very act of reading, itself, help us to envision a more humane world? In discussing these novels, then, we will examine a very contemporary concern: why must the demands of the present (not to mention our ideals for the future) be reconciled with the ghosts of our past?