Acclaimed Spanish avant-garde playwright Arrabal has delivered himself of a bracingly intelligent, caustically funny first novel. Rebellious, artistic, ex-Jesuit seminarian Elias Tarsis, an Andorran Spaniard, is locked in struggle with Marc Amary, a coldly brilliant Swiss physicist turned financial speculator and Marxist terrorist. The battlefield: the final game of the world chess championship. Ostensibly the antithesis of one another, each protagonist increasingly appears to be the other's doppelganger, as the book progresses with the aid of diagrams and flashbacks of their lives. Tarsis is convinced that Amary is behind the Paris kidnapping of a top-ranking politburo official and the ensuing demand that the Soviet Union bomb the Saudi Arabian oil fields. This mysteryand the matchare resolved to considerable effect with a surprising twist. Despite a tendency to be overly didactic, this is a stimulating examination of how emotion drives intelligence and how the innocent become pawns in the cycle of evil and human suffering. (July)
A master chess player himself, Arrabal uses the final round of the world chess championship to flesh out a personal and political confrontation between Andorran Elias Tarsis and Marc Amary, a Swiss physicist who desires victory for the greater Communist glory of the ``Party of the Poor.'' For his opponent, Amary is an implacable robot who ``reeks of assassination,'' so when the Soviet Minister of Foreign Affairs is the victim of a sensational kidnapping, Tarsis is certain that Amary is behind it. As the two make their moves on the chessboard (diagrams of which are provided), their lives unfold and the contest becomes ideological. As can be expected from this avant-garde maverick, dogmas cannot be depended on and the ending has an O. Henry-like twist. Jack Shreve, Allegany Community Coll., Cumberland, Md.