Book Jacket


rank 4566
word count 11375
date submitted 03.09.2008
date updated 10.02.2009
genres: Fiction
classification: adult

Paradise for Beginners

Christopher Lites

From the streets of Sarajevo to the tsunami ravaged Pacific, the lives of two individuals explore the extreme edges of human experience.


Philo experiences war though the lens of his camera. It resides there, apart from him, separated by each fall of the shutter. Yet he cannot maintain this distance and finds he has developed an addiction to the very destruction he documents. Katje is a teenage girl who lives in Sarajevo. Where he is the observer, she is the observed. While the West watches on TV and her world is torn apart, Katje responds by shutting herself off from her emotions, forcing those aspects of self which feel and love into the same recesses in which she has locked away her memories of better days. Drawn together by a photo he takes of her at the end of the war, their lives after are defined by that moment. He becomes famous for his photographs, documenting combat for an eager public. She achieves fame as a fashion model, symbolic of all the triumph we wish to infuse into every tragedy as if by doing so we might lend the absurd meaning. Thoroughly researched and written with an original voice in sharp, electrifying prose, Paradise for Beginners is a novel that speaks for our own “sad, frightened time.”

rate the book

to rate this book please Register or Login



fate, forgetting, history, love, memory, war

on 4 watchlists



To leave comments on this or any book please Register or Login

subscribe to comments for this book
Sarah Parish wrote 665 days ago

Hi Christopher,

I've only read the first chapter but I think this is a great premise for a novel and you get straight into the action. I'm writing something on the Balkans war in the 1990s myself so I was interested to see what you've written. You have some lovely turn of phrase and use of imagery. I have to agree with Paul House though in that at other times your writing feels a bit forced and doesn't flow as well as other paragraphs do. It could just be personal preference but I always look for a cadence to the lanaguage, so for me, each sentence should have rhythm and this should build each paragraph. You have it in places but not in others. I really liked this though and will come back to read more when I have time.

I also thought you might be interested in reading Carol Ann Duffy's poem 'War Photographer' which deals with similar themes. Also, I wondered if you had been to Bosnia or the region at all and if not, where you got hold of all your research?

Best wishes,


Eunice Attwood wrote 1286 days ago

I enjoyed the premise of your pitch so much, I have backed your book on this alone, as I have read over thirty books today, and my eyes are burning. I like your style of writing, and found the plot intriguing and well written. I have no doubt the rest of the book is as good. Backed. Eunice - The Temple Dancer.

Barry Wenlock wrote 1475 days ago

Hi Christopher, excellent writing. A great read.
Backed with pleasure, Barry
Little Krisna and the Bihar Boys

soutexmex wrote 1477 days ago

I have spent time in Sarajevo both before and during the civil war so I was totally into this one. BUT, with that said, that short pitch is too generic. The long pitch needs to be scaled back into smaller paragraphs to read faster.

Being Authonomy's #1 commentator and amateur pitch doctor, trust me, spend some time on your pitches I cannot overemphasize how you need to master this basic sales technique to grab the casual reader. That's how you climb in ranking to gather more exposure and comments to better your novel. SHELVED!

I can use your comments on my book when you get the chance. Cheers!

The Obergemau Key
Authonomy's #1 rated commentator

lizjrnm wrote 1479 days ago

This is incredible writing. Backed 100%.

The Cheech Room

Nick Poole2 wrote 1524 days ago


Ease those weary, withered limbs from your coffin. Push away the stone from the mouth of the tomb.

You have one last task to perform. One last, sacred shelf to confer.

Whether you were plugger, spammer, gusher or troll, whether you flirted or fought in the forum or beavered away in the shadows, now is the time for your resurrection.

One last time. Marshall your strength, muster the last vestiges of your power and carry out your final Authonomy act:

Back my book, MIRROR IN THE SKY.

Then, only then, you may rest easy in your Authonomy grave.

Nick Poole2 (formerly known as NickP)

J&M JENSEN wrote 1702 days ago

This really should be higher in the authonomy ranks than it is currently! You have some great turns of phrase - I noted these from ch1 especially:
"War drunk santa claus whose cheer had gravitated towards mania" Funny!
"He had become rage" Brilliant line
"The Serbs are burning history." This could almost be part of your blurb it sums up so much...
The description of Charles as something from a macabre Botticeli - so visual!

I spotted one long-winded clumsy sentence (if you read it aloud you will see what I mean,,) "...pointed to a member of the 1st Corpts, who with long hair held in a tail, looked nothing like a soldier as Philo thought of them, found cover behind their van." I think this needs to be broken down or put into two separate sentences for clarity.

You do action scenes very well and so I expected the book to be pretty much the same through out. i was therefor pleasantly surprised when I moved onto Ch2 and Katje's story, to discover how well you can change tones. Her story is a completely different voice and it works realy well.


'Graemor' - (feel free to comment if interested...)

yaasehshalom wrote 2026 days ago

I have to admit i am rather tired and I have only really skim read it but I found the bits I have read of your book to be very compelling and told from a very different perspective to what we normally here aobut the war in bosnia - you do a really good job of portraying Katje. My only thing is that she should perhaps be older than 14 because she behaves in a more "adult" way.

However I can tell that your writing is very very powerful and it conveys a very tense atmosphere.

paul house wrote 2053 days ago

I have only read the first chapter as yet, but this sounds interesting. I found some of the descriptions a little forced, but that is often a matter of taste and should, perhaps, not be taken to heart.