In Paris, the so-called radiant city, Matthew Bowles, freelance journalist, suffers a dark time. Holed up in a bare apartment in the 8th arrondissement, he’s recuperating physically, though not emotionally, from injuries sustained in a shooting in Hebron. His memory of the event is murky, and although the media has deemed him a hero – he may or may not have tried to save a man and his child – Matthew is repulsed by the attention. Unable to work, Matthew reluctantly agrees to write a book “about what got you shot”...
In Paris, the so-called radiant city, Matthew Bowles, freelance journalist, suffers a dark time. Holed up in a bare apartment in the 8th arrondissement, he’s recuperating physically, though not emotionally, from injuries sustained in a shooting in Hebron. His memory of the event is murky, and although the media has deemed him a hero – he may or may not have tried to save a man and his child – Matthew is repulsed by the attention. Unable to work, Matthew reluctantly agrees to write a book “about what got you shot” for which a New York literary agent promises “six figures on spec.” This is the project he tries to get on with in those times when he’s free from depression, free from the panic attacks triggered by certain sounds or crowd situations. More often than not, Matthew is mired in the memories of other war zones – Beirut, Herzegovina, Rwanda, Iraq – where he has worked as a war correspondent. There’s a “sack of skulls” he carries around with him. Surfacing, as well, are memories of his rural Nova Scotia childhood: a barn on fire, horses trapped. Recollections of his mother – a woman who held on until Matthew got away from home – explain, perhaps, Matthew’s tender regard for Sadia Ferhat, a Lebanese woman who, with her father and brother, runs a restaurant in Matthew’s district. Doing what he can to save Sadia’s son, who is teetering on a life of drugs and crime, Matthew’s life intersects in surprising ways with former colleague Jack Sadler, photo-journalist and ex-mercenary, now living in Paris and also recovering from war trauma. Jack’s presence in Paris is, at first, a comfort. Tough, burly, and resilient, Jack knows how to deal with panic: “‘there’s part of the brain that always lives in the present tense of the trauma .... doesn’t realize that whatever shit happened to you isn’t still happening .... convince your lizard brain that time’s moved on.’” The intersection of these three lives is Davis’s story in The Radiant City, a novel that, like Dante’s Inferno, spirals downward. The Paris underground – literally and metaphorically – teems with betrayal. The authorial compassion of this book is, however, radiant.
"The Radiant City shines. [A]thoughtful, complex, meditative. . .brilliant novel."
"Superb. . . [The Radiant City] is engrossing and convincing. . . packed with smells and sounds and street argot, the minutiae and contradictions of Paris life. Davis's question here is how can human beings look into a heart of darkness . . . and crawl back to the light again?" STARRED REVIEW
"Anyone who has ever lived in Paris will appreciate Davis's keen sense of atmosphere, her eye for detail . . . The Radiant City is a compelling read, sociologically informed, dark in its subject matter yet illuminating in its insight. . . first rate . . . left us craving more."
". . . a startlingly good novel about suffering and redemption. . . . memorable characters . . . A powerful and well-written story."
Lauren B. Davis’s new novel, OUR DAILY BREAD, will be published in September, 2011. She is also the author of the bestselling and critically acclaimed novels, THE RADIANT CITY, a finalist for the Rogers Writers Trust Fiction Prize; and THE STUBBORN SEASON, chosen for the Robert Adams Lecture Series; as well as two collections short stories, AN UNREHEARSED DESIRE and RAT MEDICINE & OTHER UNLIKELY CURATIVES. Her short fiction has been shortlisted for the CBC Literary Awards and she is the recipient of two Mid-Career Writer Sustaining grants from the Canadian Council for the Arts. Lauren reviews books for THE GLOBE & MAIL and THE LITERARY REVIEW OF CANADA, leads monthly SHARPENING THE QUILL writing workshops in Princeton, New Jersey, and teaches creative writing at the A.C. Wagner Correctional Facility, For more information, please visit her website at: www.laurenbdavis.com