The City of Your Final Destination

The City of Your Final Destination

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by Peter Cameron

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A wryly humorous, impeccably observed novel about the capriciousness of love

Omar Razaghi posts a letter on September 13, 1995 that will change the course of his life forever. A doctoral student at the University of Kansas, he writes to the estate of the Latin American author Jules Gund, requesting permission to write Gund's authorized biography. His


A wryly humorous, impeccably observed novel about the capriciousness of love

Omar Razaghi posts a letter on September 13, 1995 that will change the course of his life forever. A doctoral student at the University of Kansas, he writes to the estate of the Latin American author Jules Gund, requesting permission to write Gund's authorized biography. His request is refused, but Omar has already accepted a fellowship from the university, and with his girlfriend's vehement encouragement, he goes in person to Uruguay to petition to Gund's three executors. Although Caroline Gund, Jules' wife, and Arden Langdon, Jules' mistress and mother of his child, are initially opposed to the idea of a biography, Omar has the support of Adam, Jules' older brother, and hopes to be able to persuade the twwo women. Omar's unexpected arrival in Uruguay reverberates through this odd and isolated little family group, and his stay in the languid, dreamy Ochos Rios makes him question his former life in Kansas, and his ability-even his desire-to write an "authorized" life.

A novel about the random nature of love, and the ways in which we confront or avoid life's choices, The City of Your Final Destination is a touching, clever and wonderfully comic fourth novel from Peter Cameron.

The City of Your Final Destination was made into a film, starring Anthony Hopkins, Laura Linney and Charlotte Gainsbourg. It was released in 2007.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Henry James would have liked Peter Cameron. The author of three well-received novels (most recently, Andorra), Cameron has a Jamesian love of conversation and a belief that when people venture into foreign countries they are revealed, if not at their best , then at least at their most interesting. In this captivating new book, Omar Razaghi, a young academic at the University of Kansas, is trying to write a biography of Jules Gund, a half-Jewish Uruguayan who published one celebrated novel before blowing his own head off (the top of which "came off like an egg," one character observes). Gund left behind a dysfunctional family including Caroline, his wife; Arden, his mistress; Portia, their daughter; Adam, his brother; and Pete, Adam's companion, who all remain shipwrecked on the same decaying farm in the Uruguayan hinterlands, unable to move forward with their respective lives. Omar needs permission from Gund's family to write an authorized biography and secure a substantial research stipend (he has already lied to the research committee, saying he has the authorization). When the family refuses, Omar travels unbidden to Uruguay, hurtling himself into a nest of relationships only a very talented writer could construct. Omar, an Iranian by birth who was raised in Canada, is an expatriate among expatriates; he says of Gund, "his life bridges worlds and cultures and religions." The same could be said of this complex book, which compresses issues of identity, belonging and connection among diverse peoples into one tiny Uruguayan homestead. Readers who immerse themselves in the Gund family's knotty presence will be impressed by the novel's intelligence and narrative drive. (May) Forecast: Cameron has a core audience of gay readers, but he has always defied any narrow categorization. Here his investigation of larger issues, especially cross-cultural identity, should grant this highly readable novel broad appeal. Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Library Journal
Cameron, who has to his credit half a dozen literary novels (e.g., The Weekend) and several publications in The New Yorker and Grand Street, here demonstrates a carefully honed style, an eye for insight and humor, and an ability to create a story that is both substantial and aesthetically pleasing. The plot involves a graduate student in possession of a grant that will allow him the time to write and guaranteed publication of a biography of a now-deceased author whose one published novel seems to speak directly to him. However, the author's literary executors refuse him authorization, so he travels to their home in Uruguay as much to impress his girlfriend as to gain that authorization. The executors are a delightfully odd lot, each self-possessed and deeply flawed. And it is among them that the graduate student finds both true love and a new home. Cameron's capacity to portray emotions and interpersonal communication seems limitless. The good guys, bad guys, and landscapes of rural Uruguay, collegiate Kansas, and even a New York City unseen by one character for 40 years become quickly and convincingly known to the reader. Cheerful without being mindless, this is for all libraries. Francisca Goldsmith, Berkeley P.L., CA Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
An exceptionally moving and self-assured account of the odyssey of a young academic who sets off for South America to research the biography of an Uruguayan writer-and falls into a viper's nest of deception and intrigue. Graduate students (in the humanities, at least) aren't usually noted for machinelike efficiency, but Omar Razaghi is ineffectual even by the low standards of academe. A doctoral candidate at the University of Kansas, Omar is the sort who can set an apartment aflame and fall into quicksand with equal ease-but he is a fair scholar who knows how to write. His dissertation on the South American novelist Jules Gund has won him a fellowship with a generous stipend and guarantee of publication-if he can secure authorization for the biography he plans to write. Unfortunately, Gund's literary estate is controlled by his three heirs (a wife, a mistress, and a brother), who turned down Omar's polite letter requesting authorization. The matter probably would have ended there were it not for Omar's more forceful girlfriend Deirdre, who convinces him to get on a plane and confront the family directly. In Uruguay, he quickly discovers that the opposition is not unanimous: Gund's brother Adam is quite happy to agree to the biography-provided that Omar smuggle a few jewels back to America for him. Gund's mistress Arden also seems open to argument-maybe because she finds that she more and more enjoys having Omar around to argue with. Only Gund's widow Caroline is adamantly opposed. Could her resistance have something to do with the circumstances of Gund's suicide? Or the unpublished manuscript of Gund's last novel that she may or may not have destroyed? Is there some other, more hiddenreason? It seems like an awful lot of work just to get a stipend. Witty, intelligent, engrossing: Cameron (Andorra, 1997, etc.) offers a leisurely and old-fashioned narrative that nonetheless moves directly to a surprising but credible end.
From the Publisher

“Delightful, unexpected, magical, romantic, and fraught with adorable entanglements.” —Ann Pritchard, USA Today

“Subtle, affectingly, erotically traces the beginnings, the hesitations, the advances of a love affair.” —Richard Eder, The New York Times

“A lightly comic novel as splendid as Peter Cameron's The City of Your Final Destination is a cause for celebration.” —James Schiff, The News and Observer (Raleigh)

“A very worthy, and eminently readable, addition to Cameron's graceful, witty, and insightful body of work . . . A finely crafted novel [that] continues to surprise until the final pages.” —Chris Lehmann, The Washington Post

“Cameron draws this sweet novel to one of the most satisfying denouements in recent memory.” —John Freeman, San Francisco Chronicle

Product Details

Farrar, Straus and Giroux
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Read an Excerpt

  PART ONEWe are unhappy because we do not see how our unhappiness can end; whereas what we really fail to see is that unhappiness cannot last, since even a continuance of the same condition will bring about a change of mood. For the same reason happiness does not last.—William Gerhardie, Of Mortal Love


September 13, 1995

Ms. Caroline Gund
Ms. Arden Langdon
Mr. Adam Gund
Ochos Rios
Tranqueras, Uruguay

Dear Ms. Gund, Ms. Langdon, and Mr. Gund:I am writing to you because I have been told you are the executors of Jules Gund’s literary estate. I am seeking permission to write an authorized biography of Mr. Gund.I am a doctoral student at the University of Kansas. On the basis of my thesis, “Remember That? Well Forget It: The Articulation of Cultural Displacement and Linguistic Dismemberment in the Work of Jules Gund,” I have been awarded the Dolores Faye and Bertram Siebert Petrie Award for Biographical Studies. This award, which includes publication by the University of Kansas Press of the Gund biography as well as a generous research stipend, is contingent upon my receiving authorization from my subject’s estate. I hope you will agree that a well-researched biography of Jules Gund written by me would be in the best interest of his estate. I feel sure that the biography I plan to write, coupled with the burgeoning interest in Holocaust studies and Latin American literature, would markedly increase the amount of attention paid to the presently overlooked work of Jules Gund. This attention would enhance and secure the reputation of Mr. Gund, which would invariably result in increased sales of his book.In order that you may fully consider my request, I am enclosing a sample chapter and table of contents of my thesis. (Of course, I would be happy to send you the entire thesis if you would like to see it.) I am also enclosing a copy of my curriculum vitae, and the letter endorsing this project from the University of Kansas Press. I hope that after perusing this material, you will agree that I am uniquely qualified to research and write the comprehensive and sympathetic biography that Mr. Gund undoubtedly deserves.Because I must furnish proof of authorization to the Fellowship Committee by November 1 in order for them to process the initial payment by year’s end, I would appreciate your earliest possible response. I have taken the liberty of enclosing an authorization form herewith, should you feel ready to grant authorization at this time. Please feel free to contact me with any questions or concerns you may have about this project. You may call me, collect, at the number above.Thank you for your consideration of this request. I look forward to your response.Sincerely,
Omar RazaghiTHE CITY OF YOUR FINAL DESTINATION. Copyright © 2002 by Peter Cameron.
All rights reserved. For information,
address Picador, 175 Fifth Avenue, New York, N.Y. 10010.

Meet the Author

Peter Cameron is the author of The Weekend and Andorra. His work has appeared in The New Yorker, Grand Street, and The Paris Review. He lives in New York City.

Peter Cameron is the author of Andorra (FSG, 1997), The City of Your Final Destination (FSG, 2002), and Someday This Pain Will Be Useful to You (FSG, 2007). His work has appeared in The New Yorker, Grand Street, and The Paris Review. He lives in New York City.

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The City of Your Final Destination 3.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 4 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
ZigZag68 More than 1 year ago
This is one of the most beautifully written and moving novels I've ever read. I read this novel and then had to read the rest of his books. The movie is wonderful too, although slightly different.
Guest More than 1 year ago
My book group chose this book. I found it to be totally unconvincing. If your book group should choose it you might want to consider reading something else and changing book groups.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Peter Cameron's new book is a real gem. It's literary and smart and moving but always entertaining. And very funny. Like his other novels and short stories, the vivid settings and dialogue power the story along: you'll want to read this novel in big gulps!