Mao II

( 7 )

Overview

"One of the most intelligent, grimly funny voices to comment on life in present-day America" (The New York Times), Don DeLillo presents an extraordinary new novel about words and images, novelists and terrorists, the mass mind and the arch-individualist. At the heart of the book is Bill Gray, a famous reclusive writer who escapes the failed novel he has been working on for many years and enters the world of political violence, a nightscape of Semtex explosives and hostages locked in basement rooms. Bill's ...

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Mao II

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Overview

"One of the most intelligent, grimly funny voices to comment on life in present-day America" (The New York Times), Don DeLillo presents an extraordinary new novel about words and images, novelists and terrorists, the mass mind and the arch-individualist. At the heart of the book is Bill Gray, a famous reclusive writer who escapes the failed novel he has been working on for many years and enters the world of political violence, a nightscape of Semtex explosives and hostages locked in basement rooms. Bill's dangerous passage leaves two people stranded: his brilliant, fixated assistant, Scott, and the strange young woman who is Scott's lover—and Bill's.

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Editorial Reviews

Michiko Kakutani
Disturbing, provocative and darkly comic, Mao II reads, at once, as a sociological meditation on the perils of contemporary society, and as a kind of new-wave thriller....The writing, as usual, is dazzling; the book's images, so radioactive that they glow afterward in our minds. -- New York Times
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Each of DeLillo's previous nine novels (White Noise; Libra; etc.) has been a tour de force. This newest work is another remarkable achievement. It is almost as if DeLillo's words have value apart from the story they recount; sentences chill, scenes amaze, chapter endings reverberate, and the reader is transfixed. A reclusive novelist, Bill Gray, is drawn back into the world by acts of terrorism and by the visit of a woman who has come to photograph him for her ongoing and endless project to capture the images of the world's authors. Gradually, the novel, dense but accessible, concerns itself with the inevitable conflict between the power of the crowd and the power of the individual. Which is the motor of the world: The novelist, who may write alone in his room and yet affect masses? The terrorist, who is an individual working in concert with a larger movement which he may or may not control? The "master'' who controls masses? (The lover of Gray's assistant has been a Moonie: the opening scene, a mass wedding, is a brilliant set piece). The beauty of DeLillo's prose enlivens such seemingly dry questions. Mao II reconfirms DeLillo's status as a modern master and literary provocateur.
Library Journal
This extraordinary story focuses on one Bill Gray, a reclusive writer whose legend abounds while he slowly deteriorates from drinking, drugs, and depression. His assistant Scott keeps his image alive yet mysterious. "Years ago there were stories that Bill was dead, Bill was in Manitoba, Bill was living under another name, Bill would never write another word. . . . . Now Bill was devising his own cycle of death and resurgence. It made Scott think of great leaders who regenerate their power by dropping out of sight and then staging messianic returns. Mao Zedong of course.'' Enter Brita Nilsson, photographer of writers and terrorists, who captures Bill's likeness on film for the first time in more than three decades and pushes him to publish his last great novel. Publisher Charlie gives Bill a PR offer he can't refuse, and the story concludes on the violent streets of Beirut. DeLillo's style is wonderfully expressive yet dark in tone. Readers will thoroughly enjoy it. Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 2/15/91.-- Kevin M. Roddy, Oakland P.L., Cal.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780140152746
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
  • Publication date: 5/28/1992
  • Pages: 256
  • Sales rank: 360,244
  • Product dimensions: 5.15 (w) x 7.84 (h) x 0.69 (d)

Meet the Author

Don DeLillo

Don DeLillo published his first short story when he was twenty-three years old. He has since written twelve novels, including White Noise (1985) which won the National Book Award. It was followed by Libra (1988), his novel about the assassination of President Kennedy, and by Mao II, which won the PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction.

In 1997, he published the bestselling Underworld, and in 1999 he was awarded the Jerusalem Prize, given to a writer whose work expresses the theme of the freedom of the individual in society; he was the first American author to receive it. He is also a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters.

Biography

Growing up in his working class Bronx neighborhood in the 1940s and '50s, Don De Lillo was far more interested in sports than in books. A listless student, he did not develop an interest in reading until he was 18 and working a summer job as a parking attendant. Desperate to fill in the long, boring hours of downtime, he discovered the literature of Faulkner, Joyce, and Hemingway. He attended Fordham University and worked in advertising for several years before seriously pursuing a writing career.

When De Lillo's first novel, Americana, was published in 1971, it received modest reviews. Seven books followed over the next 14 years, steadily generating more critical praise but few sales. Then, in 1985, he hit pay dirt with White Noise, a brooding postmodern masterpiece about a Midwestern college professor and his family in the aftermath of an airborne toxic accident. It proved to be De Lillo's breakthrough, earning him both a National Book Award and an avid cult following.

Since then, De Lillo has gone on to produce a string of superb "literary" novels that fairly brim with big ideas yet also capture the essence of contemporary culture in all its infuriating banality. Cited by younger writers like Jonathan Franzen and David Foster Wallace as a major influence, De Lillo remains a reserved and private, albeit gracious and genteel man who seems a bit uncomfortable with fame.

Among the many honors De Lillo has received are the Irish Times/Aer Lingus International Fiction Prize for Libra (1989); the PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction for Mao II (1991); and the Jerusalem Prize, William Dean Howells Medal, and the Riccardo Bacchelli International Award for his magnum opus Underworld (1997). In addition, three of his novels received high marks on a 2006 survey sponsored by The New York Times to name the single best work of American fiction of the last 25 years.

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    1. Also Known As:
      Cleo Birdwell
    2. Hometown:
      Westchester County, New York
    1. Date of Birth:
      November 20, 1936
    2. Place of Birth:
      New York City
    1. Education:
      Fordham University, 1958

Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing 1 – 10 of 7 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 25, 2002

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    rich with themes relevant to today's society, well though out and well written. not the best attention grabber, but still worth the read.

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