When Charlotte is kidnapped by Middle Eastern dictator Kassem, panic is only held at bay by a sardonic Inner Voice, which alternately consoles and condemns. While Kassem appears determined to explain every warlike action, Charlotte attempts to instill humanity in the dictator. Inner Voice's incredulity at such hubris provides much-needed comic relief in an increasingly tense situation, as unbearable loneliness unleashes a storm of unexpected sexual fantasies and complex feelings.

When the promised release date comes and goes, Charlotte embarks on a hunger strike, which ultimately brings about a joyful reunion with her family. However, home life quickly disintegrates into another form of confinement, as Charlotte discovers that Kassem had used her for his propaganda, live streaming their interactions online. Media interest drives the introverted writer even further inward; as her ability to function normally deteriorates, Charlotte becomes convinced that her existence is a liability for her children.

Ultimately a post-modern fable, the novel cleverly plays with perceptions of truth while exploring the concept of imprisonment, the wider impacts of social media, and challenging widely held assumptions about fame. A Hostage probes Western political naiveté along with novelistic hubris as it, often hilariously, explores the relationship of the individual to society.


"Novel within a journal within novel, unreliable narrator, elements of meta-fictional self-reflection, the blurring of fantasy and reality, combining the political and the personal, all swirling through a state-of-the-world Middle East setting: in A Hostage, Charlotte Mendel manages to juggle and balance these in a way that keeps the reader glued to the page. And leading to the final question: To whom (and to what) is the creative artist truly held hostage? Perhaps in the end to their own art."
—Michael Mirolla, author of The Last News Vendor