Human Love

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"This story takes place in an Africa far darker and more terrible than even Conrad imagined, in the midst of an insane African war somewhere along the border between Angola and Zaire. The novel's hero is Elias Almeida, a black revolutionary whose father was killed when Elias was still a child, and whose mother, to feed him, was forced to prostitute herself. Saved from almost certain death by a Catholic priest, Elias becomes a brilliant pupil, seemingly destined for greatness. But the searing memory of his parents turns him into an important cog ...
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Overview

"This story takes place in an Africa far darker and more terrible than even Conrad imagined, in the midst of an insane African war somewhere along the border between Angola and Zaire. The novel's hero is Elias Almeida, a black revolutionary whose father was killed when Elias was still a child, and whose mother, to feed him, was forced to prostitute herself. Saved from almost certain death by a Catholic priest, Elias becomes a brilliant pupil, seemingly destined for greatness. But the searing memory of his parents turns him into an important cog in the worldwide revolutionary movement, sending him to Cuba and the Soviet Union to be trained for espionage and sabotage, first in his native Angola, still struggling to liberate itself from the colonial yoke, and then to other political hot spots. Yet Elias the revolutionary is also a romantic idealist, who believes in love, beauty, and the possibility of forging a better world." In Moscow, he falls in love with Anna, a young Russian student, and that relationship gives him strength to survive prison, battles, and the many other hells he encounters. "The only element left capable of saving Africa from its wars, torture, fallen ideologies, is love," he says as he moves on to his next assignment, "love for another individual, love for humanity."
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Editorial Reviews

Alison McCulloch
The story is familiar and disheartening, though beautifully told (in a translation by Geoffrey Strachan), its hero a reflective revolutionary who somehow manages to keep faith with the struggle.
—The New York Times
The Barnes & Noble Review
Strange that the Angolan civil war, which lasted from 1975 to 2002, remains one of the least discussed proxy conflicts of the Cold War, as it was one of the strangest. The conflagration managed to drag in apartheid-era South Africa, Mobutu's Zaire, China, and the U.S. -- all on the same side. Cuba had boots on the ground. Human Love, the new novel from Andreï Makine, takes as its protagonist Elias, an Angolan who has witnessed and participated in much of that war's long grotesquerie. His story is recounted by the Russian writer he meets in a military prison. If the love of the book's title proves sketchy, with too few of the flecks and flinches of an actual, individual relationship, the book nevertheless finds veins of rich, dark satire. At a conference on Africa, held in a European capital, the unnamed Russian attends a colloquium on "African Life Stories in Literature." In the crucible of war, a neutral, even meaningless term like "factionalist" quickly becomes a pejorative, and the book's accounts of violence -- rapes, executions -- ooze out leached of emotion, cast almost in a Houellebecqian glare. Elsewhere, Elias meditates on his life as a "professional revolutionary" -- a revealing little oxymoron -- and the phenomenon of "revolutionary tourism." The one character in the book who plausibly fills both roles is also its only true historical figure, and the irony of his cameo, as a mentor to Elias, serves as a token of the novel's unsparing, jaundiced, and periodically gripping effort to perforate myths and lay bare the ways in which bloodshed exhausts ideals. It is, of course, Che. --Ian MacKenzie
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781559708579
  • Publisher: Arcade Publishing
  • Publication date: 9/10/2008
  • Edition description: REV
  • Pages: 264
  • Product dimensions: 5.70 (w) x 8.40 (h) x 1.10 (d)

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