Lorraine Adams

Published: 9 March 2006
Paperback, B Format
129x198mm, 304 pages
ISBN: 9781846270345


A young stowaway, Aziz, jumps into the icy waters of Boston Harbor and swims ashore. He scrabbles to find shelter with fellow immigrants, tries to live right, but quickly learns that the normal rules don't apply to those who have no legal existence. Just as Aziz allows himself to forget the atrocities he fled back home in Algeria and to imagine a brighter future, the FBI starts taking an interest in his circle's activities, and all assumptions - his and ours - dissolve into urgent questions: how are terrorists identified? who watches them? and how do they live in our midst and how do they evade us?

About the author

Image of Lorraine Adams

Lorraine Adams was educated at Princeton and at Columbia University. She won a Pulitzer Prize for investigative reporting and was a staff writer for the Washington Post for eleven years. She lives in New York City, and Harbor (Portobello, 2006) was her first novel. More about the author


Harbor is a powerful, timely yet timeless novel, showing how those who are on the margins can be swept into the net of the 'war against terrorism'. Brilliantly evoked, beautifully written, it evokes the pain of exile and the invisible world of illegals, asylum seekers and crime, rarely understood, but providing the seedbed for alienation. A wonderful book vividly reflecting my own experience in the courts.’ Helena Kennedy



‘A dizzingly high-paced narrative, teasing out our understandings of terrorism, asylum and human rights along the way. A vivid, thrilling novel raw with suffering from the Pulitzer-Prize winning journalist.’ Nancy Waters

‘Adams captures the soulless fungibility that many an immigrant must feel, clinging to employment's lowest rungs.’ Lionel Shriver

‘Brilliantly, Adams pulls all the different threads together ... A strong and disturbing book’

‘Endlessly fascinating... Convincing and utterly compelling.’

‘Lorraine Adams' research forms the basis of this novel, which is rooted in the life of one brutalised young Algerian man named Aziz... Adams draws you into her emphatic and highly credible portrait of a young man beginning to assemble some forms of normalised existence.... As this tight-knit novel gathers pace it begins to take on the momentum of a thriller, uncovering the terrible details of the past even as the present surges up to engulf its characters.’

‘Mesmerizing... A ripping read... A heart-rending cautionary tale of American justice gone awry.’

‘Richly textured and deeply empathetic book which looks closely at a group of people most of American society currently shuns... Harbor has the restless propulsion of a thriller, the biting detail of an attack on ill-formed, post 9/11 assumptions and the compelling poetry of a contemplation of friendship and love.’

‘The author's background as Pulitzer-winning investigative journalist is evident in this audacious and disturbing novel about young Arabs living in the US... Adams delves deep into their lives, searching for the seeds of terrorism and examining the soil in which it flourishes.’ Kate Saunders

‘While Harbor touches on hot-button topics such as Islamic terrorism, politics never get the better of Adams's writing, and it's her luminescent prose that transforms this tale. Pacy and compact, its faraway lilt imitates immigrant English, a language both broken and beautiful. As Heather realises on a trip to the mall, 'the dead-ended everyday' was to Aziz and his friends 'a pinwheel of delight'. With secret service agents on the prowl and Rafiq's wheeler-dealing introducing an increasingly sinister element to the characters' lives, the novel's sorry denouement seems inevitable....Harbor is a bold and urgent undertaking, a book whose contemporary relevance is especially welcome when so many accomplished novelists are diving into historical fiction and the relative safety of the past.’

‘With its international scope [and] its constant play of literary ambiguity and genre suspense, Harbor feels more contemporary than almost anything else out there ... Convincing and utterly compelling’

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