The Darling

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The Darling is Hannah Musgrave's story, told emotionally and convincingly years later by Hannah herself. A political radical and member of the Weather Underground, Hannah has fled America to West Africa, where she and her Liberian husband become friends and colleagues of Charles Taylor, the notorious warlord and now ex-president of Liberia. When Taylor leaves for the Unites States in an effort to escape embezzlement charges, he's immediately placed in prison. Hannah's encounter with Taylor in America ultimately ...
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The Darling: A Novel

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Overview

The Darling is Hannah Musgrave's story, told emotionally and convincingly years later by Hannah herself. A political radical and member of the Weather Underground, Hannah has fled America to West Africa, where she and her Liberian husband become friends and colleagues of Charles Taylor, the notorious warlord and now ex-president of Liberia. When Taylor leaves for the Unites States in an effort to escape embezzlement charges, he's immediately placed in prison. Hannah's encounter with Taylor in America ultimately triggers a series of events whose momentum catches Hannah's family in its grip and forces her to make a heartrending choice.
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Editorial Reviews

Mary Gordon
The Darling is not a perfect book -- its very expansiveness of vision and range make that almost impossible -- but it is admirable, compelling, always surprising and never cliched. At the end of his chronicle, Banks takes a daring last step of reminding us that, despite what she has witnessed, Hannah is one of the privileged of the earth, ''an American darling,'' whose story, after the planes went into the towers, ''could have no significance in the larger world.'' These last mordant notes provide a brilliantly sour decrescendo to Russell Banks's symphony of history, politics and impossible, failed dreams.
— The New York Times
Wil Haygood
For years now, Russell Banks has explored race, political dramas, migrations. As our best novelists must do, he creates multidimensional characters, stories that make you think how life really must be, or once happened to be. It is not for Banks -- whose last novel, Cloudsplitter, told of John Brown's messianic odyssey during America's era of slavery -- to offer the thin novella that so often passes these days for literature. His are big novels, with daring, sweep and depth. In The Darling, he is working at full strength, and readers are in his debt.
— The Washington Post
Publishers Weekly
Six years after the publication of his much-lauded novel Cloudsplitter, Banks returns with a portrayal of personal and political turmoil in West Africa and the U.S. The darling of the title is narrator Hannah Musgrave, a privileged child of the turbulent 1960s and '70s, who now, at 59, reflects on her life. After participating in freewheeling sexual experimentation and radical politics, Hannah is wanted by the FBI for her involvement in the Weather Underground. Under an assumed name, she flees the U.S. for Africa, traveling first to Ghana, then Liberia, where in 1976 she meets and marries Woodrow Sundiata, a government official. Taking on another identity that of foreign wife, and eventually mother to three sons Hannah finds herself increasingly involved with the highest members of Liberia's government as Woodrow's political star rises. She also finds purpose in establishing a sanctuary for endangered chimpanzees. When Liberia explodes into civil war, Hannah's life and the lives of her family are in danger. Readers will be stunned by the gut-wrenching (and often foolish) decisions she makes and by the horrifying outcome of her association with key figures such as Liberian president Samuel Doe and insurgent Charles Taylor. An articulate and keenly observant narrator, Hannah explains Liberia's history and U.S. connections as smoothly as she reflects on tribal practices, the fate of chimpanzees and her own misguidedness. Better yet, for the purposes of good storytelling, she is conflicted and selfish, and often na ve despite her wide experience. She emerges as a fascinating figure, striking universal chords in her search for identity and home, though her life may ultimately be a study in futility. A rich and complex look at the searing connections between the personal and the political, this is one of Banks's most powerful novels yet. Agent, Ellen Levine. (Oct. 7) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
Hannah Musgrave, the privileged daughter of a prominent left-wing pediatrician, throws herself into the antiwar movement of the 1960s, joins the radical Weather Underground, and ends up on the FBI's most-wanted list. She flees to Liberia, impulsively marries a government minister, and then switches allegiance to notorious warlord Charles Taylor. This is an intriguing development, since Taylor is a real person frequently in the news for his involvement with "conflict diamonds." Unfortunately, he makes only a cameo appearance here. Hannah herself is utterly unconvincing, both as a revolutionary and as a woman, and it is impossible to feel much sympathy for her. While her motives are impeccable, her actions inevitably backfire and result in appalling carnage. Banks explored the themes of radical idealism and racial struggle with much greater success in Cloudsplitter, his take on abolitionist John Brown. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 6/15/04.] Edward B. St. John, Loyola Law Sch. Lib., Los Angeles Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
The Pulitzer-nominated author of Cloudsplitter (1998), among others, looks unsparingly at the bitter life of a 1960s revolutionary. Banks's portrait of John Brown showed readers an uncompromised understanding of salvation-mindedness that he applies with surgical skill here, in the story of Hannah Musgrave, only child of a Benjamin Spock-like leftist pediatrician and his supportive but self-effacing wife. Educated at Rosemary Hall and Brandeis, Hannah, a gifted mathematician and mechanic, chucked med school at the last minute to join the Weather Underground, determined to overturn the government. In the thick of the dramatic unfoldings of the late '60s, Hannah skipped bail in Chicago to go deeper underground, lived with a succession of revolutionary cells and lovers of both sexes, and ultimately fled to Africa with a trust-funded fellow Weatherman from Cincinnati. Striking out on her own, Hannah crosses from Ghana into Liberia, the strange semi-colony established by American abolitionists before the Civil War, where she finds that the revolutionary past she's tried to hide is an open secret-and that her whiteness is both protective and problematic in the odd society founded by freed slaves. Her medical training leads to a job collecting data from chimpanzees that have been taken from the wild for infection with hepatitis for research, and Hannah's attachment to the sad primates is the first true affection she's felt for anyone in her life-stronger even than the bond for the three boys she will bear after a cynical marriage to American-educated Woodrow Sundiata, a minor Liberian government official from a favored tribe. Neither her tribal connection nor her education is enough to save thefamily from the disasters that follow the fall of the corrupt president-but Hannah's connections are enough to bring her yet another and undeservedly good life back in the States. Banks never makes it easy, but this is worth reading as a warning to anyone not chary of the children of privilege. Author tour. Agent: Ellen Levine/Trident Media Group
Village Voice
“Reverberating with ideas and startling prose.”
Hartford Courant
“Banks creates a heroine every bit as complex and flawed as someone out of Jane Austen.”
Newsweek
“Once again, he has produced a novel that is searing, demanding and unforgettable.”
St. Petersburg Times
“Banks has created a heroine every bit as complex and flawed as something out of Jane Austen.”
St. Louis Post-Dispatch
“A powerful new novel.”
Virginian Pilot
“Extraordinary...Banks is the rare epic novelist.”
O magazine
“Banks’s novel is a vivid account of a time of terror, exposing the secrets of the soul.”
Washington Post Book World
“In The Darling, he is working at full strength, and his readers are in his debt.”
Associated Press
“Banks has written a novel that is utterly accessible, forcefully wrought and undeniably passionate.”
Orlando Sentinel
“Banks’ mastery of his material makes this a compelling and important book.”
Boston Globe
“Hannah’s story shows why Banks ranks among our boldest artists.”
Associated Press Staff
“Banks has written a novel that is utterly accessible, forcefully wrought and undeniably passionate.”
O Magazine
"Banks’s novel is a vivid account of a time of terror, exposing the secrets of the soul."
From the Publisher
“Daring in concept and fearless in its analysis, The Darling could be Banks’s strongest book yet.”
Winnipeg Free Press

“[Hannah’s] story, and the story of her adopted country, is a fruitless quest for identity. But Banks has made it a marvelous experience.”
The Vancouver Sun

“The robust voice of Hannah Musgrave stands out a mile, orbiting the planet, earnestly tracking the linkages of political and sexual power. She is trying to show us how social activism can end up sabotaging the very structures one was attempting to invigorate, the mechanics of political discourse and social welfare. There are plenty of surprises.”
The Globe and Mail

“Russell Banks, one of America’s most elegant literary voices, has delivered an extraordinary book. . . . If for no other reason, The Darling is worth reading for Banks’s method.”
The Vancouver Sun

“Banks brilliantly captures West Africa–the sights, smells and politics. . . . [A] spellbinding book.”
People

“Russell Banks . . . is the master depicter of family relations. [The Darling is] 390 pages of rich and compelling storytelling to enjoy.”
The Calgary Herald

“His unsentimental compassion, the effortlessness of his prose, and the familiarity of his terrain . . . make . . . [Banks] arguably the most widely read of American writers today.”
National Post

“A taut and riveting story of politics, race and class in post-colonial Africa. . . . Banks offers us an ambitious and charged novel with admirable reach that makes powerful and sophisticated comment not only on America’s legacy in post-colonial Africa, but on white liberalism and the politics of race in America itself.”
—Camilla Gibb, National Post

“Russell Banks’s twentieth-century Liberia is as hellish a place as Joseph Conrad’s nineteenth-century Congo. The only creatures that behave with humanity are the apes. A dark and disturbing book."
—J. M. Coetzee

Praise for Russell Banks:
“Russell Banks has now become. . .the most important living white male American on the official literary map, a writer we, as readers and writers, can actually learn from, whose books help and urge us to change.”
The Village Voice

“We [are] blessed by Banks’s prodigious talent and insight.”
Los Angeles Times Book Review

From the Hardcover edition.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780792733379
  • Publisher: Sound Library
  • Publication date: 10/28/2004
  • Format: CD
  • Product dimensions: 7.12 (w) x 6.46 (h) x 1.57 (d)

Meet the Author

Russell Banks is one of America's most prestigious fiction writers, a past president of the International Parliament of Writers, and a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters. His work has been translated into twenty languages and has received numerous prizes and awards, including the Common Wealth Award for Literature. He lives in upstate New York and Miami, Florida.

Biography

Born in New England on March 28, 1940, Russell Banks was raised in a hardscrabble, working-class world that has profoundly shaped his writing. In Banks's compassionate, unlovely tales, people struggle mightily against economic hardship, family conflict, addictions, violence, and personal tragedy; yet even in the face of their difficulties, they often exhibit remarkable resilience and moral strength.

Although he began his literary career as a poet, Banks forayed into fiction in 1975 with a short story collection Searching for Survivors and his debut novel, Family Life. Several more critically acclaimed works followed, but his real breakthrough occurred with 1985's Continental Drift, a Pulitzer Prize-nominated novel that juxtaposes the startlingly different experiences of two families in America. In 1998, he earned another Pulitzer nomination for his historical novel Cloudsplitter, an ambitious re-creation of abolitionist John Brown.

Since the 1980s, Banks has lived in upstate New York -- a region he (like fellow novelists William Kennedy and Richard Russo) has mined to great effect in several novels. Two of his most powerful stories, Affliction (1990) and The Sweet Hereafter (1991), have been adapted for feature films. (At least two others have been optioned.) He has also received numerous honors and literary awards, including the prestigious John Dos Passos Prize for fiction.

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    1. Date of Birth:
      March 28, 1940
    2. Place of Birth:
      Newton, Massachusetts

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

After many years of believing that I never dream of anything, I dreamed of Africa. It happened on a late-August night here at the farm in Keene Valley, about as far from Africa as I have been able to situate myself. I couldn't recall the dream's story, although I knew that it was in Africa, the country of Liberia, and my home in Monrovia, and that somehow the chimps had played a role, for there were round, brown, masklike faces still afloat in my mind when I awoke, safe in my bed in this old house in the middle of the Adirondack Mountains, and found myself overflowing with the knowledge that I would soon return there.

It wasn't a conscious decision to return. More a presentiment is all it was, a foreboding perhaps, advancing from the blackest part of my mind at the same rate as the images of Liberia drifted there and broke and dissolved in those dark waters where I've stored most of my memories of Africa. Memories of Africa and of the terrible years before. When you have kept as many secrets as I have for as long as I have, you end up keeping them from yourself as well. So, yes, into my cache of forgotten memories of Liberia and the years that led me there — that's where the dream went. As if it were someone else's secret and were meant to be kept from me, especially.

And in its place was this knowledge that I would soon be going back — foreknowledge, really, because I didn't make the decision until later that day, when Anthea and I had finished killing the chickens and were wrapping them in paper and plastic bags for delivery and pickup.

It was at the end of summer, the beginning of an early autumn, and though barely a year ago, it feels like a decade, so much was altered in that year. The decade here: now, that seems like a few days and nights is all, because nothing except the same thing has happened here day after day, season after season, year after year.No new or old returning lovers, no marriages or divorces, no births or deaths, at least among the humans. Just the farm and the world that nourishes and sustains it. Timeless, it has seemed.

The farm is a commercial operation, inasmuch as I sell most of what I grow, but in truth it's more like an old-fashioned family farm, and to run it I've had to give over my personal clock. I've had to abandon all my urban ways of measuring time and replace them with the farm's clock, which is marked off by the needs and demands of livestock and the crops, by the requirements of soil and the surge and flux of weather. It's no wonder that farmers in the old days were obsessed with the motions of the planets and the waxing and waning of the moon, as if their farms were the bodies of women. I sometimes think it's because I am a woman — or maybe it's merely because I lived all those years in Liberia, adapted to African time — that I was able to adapt so easily to the pace and patterns and rhythmic repetitions of nature's clock and calendar.

It was as usual, then, on that August morning, with the darkness just beginning to pull back from the broad river valley to the forests and the mountains looming behind the house, that I woke at five-thirty and came downstairs wearing my flannel nightgown and slippers against the pre-dawn chill, with the dogs clattering behind me, checked the temperature by the moon-faced thermometer outside the kitchen window (still no frost,which was good, because we'd neglected to cover the tomatoes), and put the dogs out. I made coffee for Anthea, who comes in at six and says she can't do a thing until after her second cup, and the other girls, who come in at seven. I lingered for a few moments in the kitchen while the coffee brewed, enjoying the dark smell of it. I never drink coffee, having been raised on tea, a habit I took from my father as soon as he'd let me, but I do love the smell of it when it's brewing and buy organic Colombian beans from a mail-order catalogue and grind them freshly for each pot, just for the aroma.

For a few moments, as I always do, I stood by the window and watched the dogs.They are Border collies, father and daughter, Baylor and Winnie, and when they have done their business, the first thing they do every morning is patrol the property, reclaiming their territory and making sure that during the night nothing untoward has happened. Usually I watch them work and think of them as working for me. But this morning they looked weirdly different to me, as if during the night one of us, they or I, had changed allegiances. They looked like ghost dogs,moving swiftly across the side yard in the gray pre-dawn light, disappearing into shadows cast by the house and oak trees, darting low to the ground into the garage, then reappearing and moving on.Today they worked for no one but themselves; that's how I saw them.Their gait was halfway between a trot and a run — fast, effortless, smooth, and silent, their ears cocked forward, plumed tails straight back — and they seemed more like small wolves than carefully trained and utterly domesticated herding animals.

For a moment they scared me. I saw the primeval wildness in them, their radical independence and selfishness, the ferocity of their strictly canine needs. Perhaps it was the thin, silvery half-light and that I viewed them mostly in silhouette as they zigged and zagged across the yard, and when they'd checked the garage, an open shed, actually, where I park the pickup truck and my Honda, they moved on to the barn and from there to the henhouse, where the rooster crowed, and then loped all the way to the pond in the front field, where they woke the ducks and geese, never stopping, running in tandem, a pair of single-minded predators sifting their territory at peak efficiency.

From the Hardcover edition.

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First Chapter

The Darling

Chapter One

After many years of believing that I never dream of anything, I dreamed of Africa. It happened on a late-August night here at the farm in Keene Valley, about as far from Africa as I have been able to situate myself. I couldn't recall the dream's story, although I knew that it was in Africa, the country of Liberia, and my home in Monrovia, and that somehow the chimps had played a role, for there were round, brown, masklike faces still afloat in my mind when I awoke, safe in my bed in this old house in the middle of the Adirondack Mountains, and found myself overflowing with the knowledge that I would soon return there.

It wasn't a conscious decision to return. More a presentiment is all it was, a foreboding perhaps, advancing from the blackest part of my mind at the same rate as the images of Liberia drifted there and broke and dissolved in those dark waters where I've stored most of my memories of Africa. Memories of Africa and of the terrible years before. When you have kept as many secrets as I have for as long as I have, you end up keeping them from yourself as well. So, yes, into my cache of forgotten memories of Liberia and the years that led me there -- that's where the dream went. As if it were someone else's secret and were meant to be kept from me, especially.

And in its place was this knowledge that I would soon be going back -- foreknowledge, really, because I didn't make the decision until later that day, when Anthea and I had finished killing the chickens and were wrapping them in paper and plastic bags for delivery and pickup.

It was at the end of summer, the beginning of an early autumn, and though barely a year ago, it feels like a decade, so much was altered in that year. The decade here: now, that seems like a few days and nights is all, because nothing except the same thing has happened here day after day, season after season, year after year.No new or old returning lovers, no marriages or divorces, no births or deaths, at least among the humans. Just the farm and the world that nourishes and sustains it. Timeless, it has seemed.

The farm is a commercial operation, inasmuch as I sell most of what I grow, but in truth it's more like an old-fashioned family farm, and to run it I've had to give over my personal clock. I've had to abandon all my urban ways of measuring time and replace them with the farm's clock, which is marked off by the needs and demands of livestock and the crops, by the requirements of soil and the surge and flux of weather. It's no wonder that farmers in the old days were obsessed with the motions of the planets and the waxing and waning of the moon, as if their farms were the bodies of women. I sometimes think it's because I am a woman -- or maybe it's merely because I lived all those years in Liberia, adapted to African time -- that I was able to adapt so easily to the pace and patterns and rhythmic repetitions of nature's clock and calendar.

It was as usual, then, on that August morning, with the darkness just beginning to pull back from the broad river valley to the forests and the mountains looming behind the house, that I woke at five-thirty and came downstairs wearing my flannel nightgown and slippers against the pre-dawn chill, with the dogs clattering behind me, checked the temperature by the moon-faced thermometer outside the kitchen window (still no frost,which was good, because we'd neglected to cover the tomatoes), and put the dogs out. I made coffee for Anthea, who comes in at six and says she can't do a thing until after her second cup, and the other girls, who come in at seven. I lingered for a few moments in the kitchen while the coffee brewed, enjoying the dark smell of it. I never drink coffee, having been raised on tea, a habit I took from my father as soon as he'd let me, but I do love the smell of it when it's brewing and buy organic Colombian beans from a mail-order catalogue and grind them freshly for each pot, just for the aroma.

For a few moments, as I always do, I stood by the window and watched the dogs.They are Border collies, father and daughter, Baylor and Winnie, and when they have done their business, the first thing they do every morning is patrol the property, reclaiming their territory and making sure that during the night nothing untoward has happened. Usually I watch them work and think of them as working for me. But this morning they looked weirdly different to me, as if during the night one of us, they or I, had changed allegiances. They looked like ghost dogs,moving swiftly across the side yard in the gray pre-dawn light, disappearing into shadows cast by the house and oak trees, darting low to the ground into the garage, then reappearing and moving on.Today they worked for no one but themselves; that's how I saw them.Their gait was halfway between a trot and a run -- fast, effortless, smooth, and silent, their ears cocked forward, plumed tails straight back -- and they seemed more like small wolves than carefully trained and utterly domesticated herding animals.

For a moment they scared me. I saw the primeval wildness in them, their radical independence and selfishness, the ferocity of their strictly canine needs. Perhaps it was the thin, silvery half-light and that I viewed them mostly in silhouette as they zigged and zagged across the yard, and when they'd checked the garage, an open shed, actually, where I park the pickup truck and my Honda ...

The Darling. Copyright © by Russell Banks. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
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Foreword

1. What is the significance of the title, The Darling?

2. Hannah Musgrave spends much of her life in the US and Liberia under an alias, Dawn Carrington. She recalls that for a time as a child, she insisted on being known as “Scout,” and she feels that Woodrow has two separate lives: one in Freetown, and one in Fuama. How does identity play out in The Darling? What did the novel make you think about personality – could you only have lived the life you have, or do we each contain multitudes?

3. “If humans, like the rest of the animals, could not speak, we would all live together in peace, devouring one another solely out of necessity and instinct, our positions in the food chain nicely balanced by need and numbers. If we were as speechless as my collies on the farm or the hens and sheep and the geese, if we barked or baa’d or clucked or if like the chimps we could only hoot and holler and otherwise had to depend on body language, we would not kill one another or any other animal solely for the pleasure on it. The power of speech is the speech of power. Vows of silence are pledges to peaceableness. Silence is indeed golden, and a golden age would be silent.”

Do you agree?

4. Charles Taylor and Samuel Doe are real people as well as characters in The Darling – and at one point John Kerry gets a mention, having gone on a rafting trip with Hannah’s parents. How does Russell Banks meld the historic and the fictional in this novel? Did you find its combination of the factual and imaginary persuasive or unsettling, or both?

5. How are Hannah’s “dreamers” importantto her and to the novel as a whole?

6. How would you sum up the character of Hannah Musgrave? How well do you feel she understands herself? Do you agree with the choices she makes in her life? Would you call her a good person?

7. At the novel’s close, Hannah says, “It was September 10th, 2001, and one dark era was about to end and another, darker era to begin, one in which my story could never have happened, my life not possibly been lived.” In what way is The Darling a portrait of a generation?

8. What are your criticisms of The Darling?

9. What do you think of the novel’s presentation of the relations of the United States with Liberia – and by extension, with other countries in the developing world? You might want to discuss the actions of Sam Clement, the US’s “cultural attaché” in Freetown.

10. On a few occasions the narrator comments on what she is doing in telling her story: “I had no choice but to alter, delete, revise, and invent whole chapters of my story. Just as, for the same reasons, I am doing here, telling it to you.” How do you feel about these moments? About the narrative voice of the novel as a whole?

11. What do you make of Iris Musgrave’s reaction to her husband’s death (Hannah’s father)?

12. Compare The Darling’s description of west Africa with another writer’s: you could consider Joseph Conrad, Chinua Achebe, Graham Greene...

13. What happens to Hannah in Fuama, so that, “Afterwards I was a subtly changed person, and Africa no longer frightened me”? Why?

14. If you have read other novels by Russell Banks, how would you compare The Darling with them? In what ways is this book a departure? How does it explore the themes the author has pursued in the rest of his work?

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Reading Group Guide

Introduction

Russell Banks has exhibited an astonishingly imaginative range throughout his distinguished career as a novelist, and his uniquely realistic American voice, on display in such modern classics as Rule of the Bone and Continental Drift, continues to shine in this latest effort. Fans and newcomers alike will be rewarded by his incisive eye for character and his ability to deliver a relentless and engaging narrative -- always in the service of his inimitable style.

The Darling is Hannah Musgrave's story, told emotionally and convincingly years later by Hannah herself. A political radical and member of the Weather Underground, Hannah has fled America to West Africa, where she and her Liberian husband become friends and colleagues of Charles Taylor, the notorious warlord and now ex-president of Liberia. When Taylor leaves for the United States in an effort to escape embezzlement charges, he's immediately placed in prison. Hannah's encounter with Taylor in America ultimately triggers a series of events whose momentum catches Hannah's family in its grip and forces her to make a heartrending choice.

Set in Liberia and the United States from 1975 through 1991, The Darling is a political-historical thriller -- reminiscent of Greene and Conrad -- that explodes the genre, raising serious philosophical questions about terrorism, political violence, and the clash of races and cultures.

Discussion Questions

  1. What is the significance of the title, The Darling?

  2. Hannah Musgrave spends much of her life in the US and Liberia under an alias, Dawn Carrington. She recalls that for a time as a child, she insisted on being known as "Scout," and she feels that Woodrow has two separate lives: one in Freetown, and one in Fuama. How does identity play out in The Darling? What did the novel make you think about personality – could you only have lived the life you have, or do we each contain multitudes?
  3. "If humans, like the rest of the animals, could not speak, we would all live together in peace, devouring one another solely out of necessity and instinct, our positions in the food chain nicely balanced by need and numbers. If we were as speechless as my collies on the farm or the hens and sheep and the geese, if we barked or baa'd or clucked or if like the chimps we could only hoot and holler and otherwise had to depend on body language, we would not kill one another or any other animal solely for the pleasure on it. The power of speech is the speech of power. Vows of silence are pledges to peaceableness. Silence is indeed golden, and a golden age would be silent." Do you agree?

  4. Charles Taylor and Samuel Doe are real people as well as characters in The Darling – and at one point John Kerry gets a mention, having gone on a rafting trip with Hannah's parents. How does Russell Banks meld the historic and the fictional in this novel? Did you find its combination of the factual and imaginary persuasive or unsettling, or both?

  5. How are Hannah's "dreamers" important to her and to the novel as a whole?

About the author

Russell Banks, one of America's most prestigious fiction writers, is president of the International Parliament of Writers and a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters. His work has been translated into 20 languages and has received numerous international prizes and awards. He lives in upstate New York and is currently the New York State Author.

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Sort by: Showing all of 5 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 25, 2008

    A fascinating book

    Russell Bank's writing draws you in and keeps you there from the beginning. This story is fascinating and gives the reader a glimpse into a generation of activists and the underground as well as a look at the Liberian struggles, all set around a compelling and complex person in the form of 'Hannah'. Great characters and great story.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 29, 2010

    The writing is sublime (as usual); the story and character deeply disturbing and guaranteed to make you fall in love.

    A wonderful, complex, frightening, unforgettable book. Surely not for everyone, nor "just for fun" (though it Is compelling-compelling...) But, everyone Ought to read this book, and get whatever they may from it--- it is so rich. Again, as usual, for Banks. However, this is darker--- even than the Sweet Hereafter, in that it is very... viscerally disturbing; that is, by comparison The Sweet Hereafter is devastating, but comprehensible to Western/US minds.
    There is something at once foreign and so-close-to-home about the Darling--- it is terrifying, and, I feel, truly art.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 21, 2006

    A very good read

    I am going to Liberia to work shortly. Even though the book is fiction, I found the historical events that are incorporated in this book to be very illuminating. I enjoyed reading this book.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 24, 2013

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted January 29, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

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