Set amid the current tension and violence of the Middle East, Whitbread Award-winning Nicholas Mosley's new novel features over a half-dozen characters searching for a way to quell the self-destructive impulses of society. As the novel develops, the actions and aspirations of these characters—which include a Muslim student working on the most deadly of biological weapons, a young Israeli girl trapped in a temple's ruins, and an eccentric ex-guru who has mysteriously disappeared—create a textual and philosophical ...
Set amid the current tension and violence of the Middle East, Whitbread Award-winning Nicholas Mosley's new novel features over a half-dozen characters searching for a way to quell the self-destructive impulses of society. As the novel develops, the actions and aspirations of these characters—which include a Muslim student working on the most deadly of biological weapons, a young Israeli girl trapped in a temple's ruins, and an eccentric ex-guru who has mysteriously disappeared—create a textual and philosophical pattern illustrating the role chance and coincidence play in our world. In the vein of Hopeful Monsters and The Hesperides Tree, Mosley mixes science, philosophy and contemporary politics around the question of how individual actions can influence the world.
An astonishing piece of work with the potential to shift the way we view the world. . . .
Like the deus absconditus of Pascal, Maurice Rotblatt is more present in his absence: the TV personality, psychologist and mystic, whom "admirers occasionally described... as Christ-like" disappeared in the early '90s in Beirut. Rumors have reached Rotblatt's friend Richard Kahn, a lecturer in anthropology in Beirut, that Rotblatt was trying to find a genetic difference between believers of different faiths; this information has interested some unnamed Middle Eastern leaders, who would like to develop toxins that would kill only genetically tagged victims. It has also intrigued Carl Andros, a biologist and intelligence agent of some sort, located in London. Kahn's friend Hafiz, a graduate student geneticist, tries to find out whether such poisons are actually being tested; meanwhile, Hafiz's friend Joshua travels to London to interview Laura Simmons, Maurice's last mistress. Andros runs into Maisie, Laura's niece, and encourages her to go to Beirut. We watch as these characters intricately intersect: Maisie does get to Beirut and falls in love with Hafiz; Richard, in Jerusalem now, gains an intimation of Maurice's fate; Maisie's gay friend Dario becomes Laura's secretary; and Joshua and Andros move toward an erotic relationship. Mosley's characters have feverish, God-obsessed inner lives; their outer lives have a flickering, stylized unreality. Gnomic dialogues abound. A woman giving birth improbably asks her midwife, "Can you see its head, Gaby? Is it like the sun? Does it have two arm two legs and one in between? Surely God was not jealous.... Do you think one day we shall hear his song?" This is a complexly imagined novel of ideas, but some readers may find it a pallid effort from the Whitbread Award-winning author of Hopeful Monsters. (Aug. 10) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Set primarily in the contemporary Middle East, this novel takes its title and theme from Voltaire's saying, "If God did not exist, it would be necessary to invent him." The plot centers on Maurice Rotblatt, an eccentric New Age guru who becomes a legend when he suddenly, and perhaps intentionally, disappears. He leaves a diverse circle of family members and followers pursuing the mystery of his disappearance, including ex-wife Laura; young niece Maisie; Richard Kahn, a disciple of sorts who lives in Beirut; and Hafiz, a Muslim student trying to verify the existence of an advanced biological weapon. Mosley specializes in novels of ideas, and this one explores spiritual and political concerns prompted by September 11, as it deals with the role of chance and intention and how individual actions influence the larger world. While thoughtful and deeply earnest, the novel is filled with too many underdeveloped characters having too many highly elliptical conversations to be fully successful or to carry the emotional weight the author desires. Still, this is a worthwhile purchase for larger collections.-Lawrence Rungren, Merrimack Valley Lib. Consortium, Andover, MA Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.