In the vein of Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn, Searching for Sylvie Lee by Jean Kwok, and The Dry by Jane Harper, THE DIG features propulsive writing and magnetic main characters who seek to solve the puzzle of their own past.
by Anne Burt
Counterpoint, Spring 2023
(via Writers House)
After Antonia (Toni) King trades small-town Minnesota and her adopted family for a high-powered legal career, her brother’s mysterious disappearance pulls her back home. Toni has a complicated relationship with the past: after being found as a child in the rubble of a bombed-out apartment in Sarajevo, she and her brother Paul were taken in by the Kings, a family of contractors in the small Midwestern town of Thebes, Minnesota.
As a child, Toni fantasized about what life would be like if she were born in Minnesota with blond hair and blue eyes, instead of as a dark haired Bosniak with a traumatic history. Now in her adult life, Toni has a newly minted law degree from Harvard and plans to put it to good use in the cause of justice in Washington, D.C. —far away from Thebes. But when she wins a plum job at an influential Twin Cities law firm with international clientele, she feels herself pulled back to the Midwest.
Her adoptive uncle, Christopher King, is furious that she’s moved back to Minnesota but rejected the opportunity he’s offered to work as counsel for the family construction business. And shortly after her arrival, Toni learns that idealistic Paul has disappeared after vocally protesting their uncle’s next development site—a Somali Community Center. As Toni must search for her brother, fend off her uncle’s demand to disavow him, and all the while try to please her demanding new boss, she uncovers a strange connection between her client and her uncle’s business, and with that begins to excavate decades of family secrets and lies. Toni must suddenly come to terms with the fact that her perceived foundation upon which her life was based was false.
Over the course of a single day, Toni navigates the serpentine bureaucracy of her small-town’s justice system, unearthing salacious characters from the past along with decades of secrets and lies, leading to explosive revelations about her adoptive family—and the sinister truth behind her biological mother’s death—that will alter the course of her life, and change her definition of home forever.
THE DIG is a shimmering, heart-wrenching portrait of a woman at odds with her history.
Anne Burt is the editor of My Father Married Your Mother: Dispatches from the Blended Family, and co-editor, with Christina Baker Kline, of About Face: Women Write About What They See When They Look in the Mirror. Anne is a consultant for organizations including the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum and the Aspen Institute, and a lecturer at Columbia University’s School of Professional Studies. Anne’s essays and fiction have appeared in numerous publications and venues, including Salon, National Public Radio, and The Christian Science Monitor; she is a past winner of Meridian Literary Magazine’s Editors’ Prize in Fiction. Anne holds a B.A. in history from Yale University and an M.A. in creative writing from NYU. THE DIG is her first novel.