Grove Press
Atlantic Monthly Press
Atlantic Monthly Press

The Woman Who Lost Her Soul

by Bob Shacochis

“Engrossing . . . a soaring literary epic about the forces that have driven us to the 9/11 age . . . always so relentlessly captivating that you don’t dare fall behind.” —Ron Charles, Washington Post

  • Imprint Grove Paperback
  • Page Count 736
  • Publication Date July 01, 2014
  • ISBN-13 978-0-8021-2275-9
  • Dimensions 6" x 9"
  • US List Price $18.00
  • Imprint Atlantic Monthly Press
  • Page Count 736
  • Publication Date September 03, 2013
  • ISBN-13 978-0-8021-1982-7
  • Dimensions 6.13" x 9"
  • US List Price $28.00

About The Book

Renowned through four award-winning books for his gritty and revelatory visions of the Caribbean, Bob Shacochis returns to occupied Haiti in The Woman Who Lost Her Soul before sweeping across time and continents to unravel tangled knots of romance, espionage, and vengeance. In riveting prose, Shacochis builds a complex and disturbing story about the coming of age of America in a pre-9/11 world. Set over fifty years and in four countries backdropped by different wars, The Woman Who Lost Her Soul is National Book Award winner Bob Shacochis’ magnum opus that brings to life, through the mystique and allure of history, an intricate portrait of catastrophic events that led up to the war on terror and the America we are today.

Tags Literary


“No one in American literature is better at casting his imagination into the deepest currents of American culture and politics than Bob Shacochis. The long, ardent, admiring wait for his next novel has been worth every moment: The Woman Who Lost Her Soul is his masterpiece.” —Robert Olen Butler

“Shacochis thinks big, and his new novel (his first in two decades) is truly magisterial . . . immensely readable, this eye-opener (which could have been titled ‘Why We Are in the Middle East’) is essential reading.” —Library Journal (Starred Review)

“National Book Award–winning novelist Shacochis makes a long-awaited—indeed, much-anticipated—return to fiction with this stunning novel of love, innocence and honor lost . . . The wait was worth it . . . Shacochis has delivered a work that belongs alongside Joseph Conrad and Graham Greene . . . [The Woman Who Lost Her Soul] moves like a fast-flowing river, and it is memorably, smartly written . . . An often depressing, cautionary and thoroughly excellent tale of the excesses of empire, ambition and the too easily fragmented human soul.” —Kirkus (Starred Review)

“A beautifully written, Norman Mailer–like treatise on international politics, secret wars, espionage, and terrorism . . . A brilliant book, likely to win prizes, with echoes of Joseph Joseph Conrad, Graham Greene, and John le Carré.” —Booklist (Starred Review)

“In Shacochis’s powerful novel of sex, lies, and American foreign policy, 1990s Haiti, Nazi-occupied Croatia, and Cold War–era Istanbul are shown as places where people are pulled into a vortex of personal and political destruction . . . A brutal American-style le Carré, Shacochis details how espionage not only reflects a nation’s character but can also endanger its soul. Gritty characters find themselves in grueling situations against a moral and physical landscape depicted in rich language as war-torn, resilient, angry, evil, and hopeful.” —Publisher’s Weekly (Starred Review)

“Engrossing . . . a soaring literary epic about the forces that have driven us to the 9/11 age. . . . Shacochis darts around the globe over the span of five decades like a sorcerer of world history: Locations shift, time swirls, characters reappear in new disguises with new names. He’s always so relentlessly captivating that you don’t dare fall behind.” —Ron Charles, The Washington Post

The Woman Who Lost Her Soul, a showstopper (and doorstopper) of a novel by Bob Shacochis, is an atlas of the ways political violence corrupts both the individual and national consciousness. Moving among multiple countries over the course of decades, it traces the failures, achievements, perversions and deceptions of late-20th-century American foreign policy. Over the course of its many pages, the prose is never less than lyrical, personal and intelligent, but the real reason to read is to witness the near superhuman ambition of Shacochis’ undertaking. If he were a rower, this would be a circumnavigation of the globe. If he were a sculptor, this would be Mount Rushmore. Lucky for us, he’s a writer and The Woman Who Lost Her Soul is a masterpiece.” —Anthony Marra, Salon (Ultimate Book Guide, 2013)

“This big beauty of a book was worth the wait. It’s tinglingly ambitious, vast in scope, and magnificently written. I could unerringly pick a Bob Shacochis sentence out of a police line-up of sentences, which is just about the highest praise I can offer to any writer.” —Michael Cunningham

“A love story, a thriller, a family saga, a historical novel, and a political analysis of America’s tragic misadventures abroad. The novel yokes the narrative drive of the best Graham Greene and le Carré to the rhetorical force and moral rigor of Faulkner . . . With a vision at once bitingly realistic and sweepingly romantic, Bob Shacochis has written what may well be the last Great American Novel. What other American writer has put as much heart into his creations, as much drive, as much history?” —Askold Melnyczuk, Los Angeles Review of Books

“This novel amounts to a prequel of sorts to the war on terror, an epic examination of American foreign policy and loss of innocence, a worthy successor to the darkest works of Graham Greene and John le Carré . . . Elegiac . . . is a searching and searing meditation on the questions someone might ask a century from now: Who were these Americans? How should history judge them? And us?” —Jane Ciabattari, Boston Globe

“A big book in every sense of the word . . . Shacochis is a master at the top of his game . . . In this novel, he gives us real, raw-edged characters and a narrative that grips the reader from the get-go. And he does it with such gleaming word-craft and such a sure hand that the reader’s utter engagement never falters. The book is a murder-mystery, a tale of political intrigue, a love story and a fraught father-daughter psychological saga. It was 10 years in the writing and it is a masterpiece . . . a brilliant, beautiful page-turner . . . luminous writing unfurls across every blood-spattered, sweat-speckled, dust-caked page and makes The Woman Who Lost Her Soul a riveting, heartbreaking and ravishing read. It’s a novel of uncommon grace and grit that lodges like shrapnel in the psyche and works its way surely to the reader’s heart, without ever losing sight of those ‘terrible intimacies.’” —Tallahassee Democrat

The Woman Who Lost Her Soul was a long time coming, but critics are saying it was well worth the wait.” —NPR

“Shacochis could make anyone fall in love with history. With this magnum opus, he’s earned his own little piece of it.” —Entertainment Weekly (A)

“A masterful novel with the power to shake the bones of Graham Greene.” —Bruce Barcott, Outside Magazine

“Brilliantly unveils the darker regions of human sexuality, evoked inside a historical build-up of international political deceit.” —Jeffrey Hillard, Interview Magazine

“Bob Shacochis is the man for all syntheses, confabulating decades of time and volumetric immensities of geography into pitched and vivid dramatic narrative. Long in the making, but longer in the lasting, The Woman Who Lost Her Soul is unafraid of its ambitions. Shacochis is, in Glengarry-speak, a ‘closer.’” —Sven Birkerts

The Woman Who Lost Her Soul will grab you from the first sentence and keep you gasping and laughing and weeping until the end. A murder mystery, a spy thriller and a Daddy and daughter story, it is a thrilling gripping lesson in the dynamics that have swept through our world in the 21st century. Shacochis writes like an angel, and in this novel of culture, betrayal and love he has found a perfect subject.” —Susan Cheever

“Shacochis raises morally tough questions within a significant political/historical frame, and his language is luscious.” —Library Journal (fall preview)


One of NPR’s Great Reads for 2013


She had a nervous body, clapping knees and restless arms, but was not timid under the scan of yet another pair of fixated eyes, and regarded Tom with an utter absence of interest. Instead of dazzling, her beauty seemed to be the source of profound comfort and unending satisfaction, the American ideal, the girl every boy dreamed of courting and winning, the girl who made every one of them crazy in high school and wretched in college, their universal torture queen, blithe collector of tormented young hearts, the first and last girl to occupy their beautiful self-told lies of perfect love, perfect companionship, the one they could never stop needing and never stop hating and never get out of their minds. Hers would be a slavish cult of eager youth and wicked men, and Tom could only be thankful that, given the manifold distances between them—she in her mid-twenties, he entering his forties; a mathematical separation not quite tainted by the dread of imaginary fatherhood—any intimacy they might impossibly stumble into would be short and bitter . . .

“Jackie’s a photographer,” said the fellow from The Guardian, and Tom tried to see her more clearly through the perspective of her profession, but she was too green, too studied in her wrinkled clothes, baggy, many-pocketed khaki pants and immaculate V-neck T-shirt. . . . “Who do you work for?” Tom asked.

“Nobody.” She shrugged and examined her unpainted fingernails. Tom looked to The Guardian man for an explanation but he cocked an eyebrow and shrugged as well. Weird chick, said his face, and Tom thought, does she not understand where she is?