During World War I, the author Susan Muaddi Darraj's grandfather was kidnapped by the Turkish army from his village in what is now Palestine. His wrists were bound with a rope, and he was and marched to Damascus behind a horse.
"Everyone in his village assumed he was dead," Darraj says during an interview at her home in Phoenix, Baltimore County.
"But somehow he escaped. He walked for three days to get back home, hiding along the way. People gave him a morsel to eat here, a cup of water there. There had to be trauma, but he never talked about it."
A century later, the author's unanswered questions about the real-life abduction became the kernel of a...