Correspondents: A Novel

Correspondents: A Novel

by Tim Murphy


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“Murphy artfully connects multiple narratives to produce a sprawling tale of love, family, duty, war, and displacement. It is above all a stinging indictment of the ill-fated war in Iraq and the heavy tolls it continues to exact on its people.”—Khaled Hosseini, author of The Kite Runner

The world is Rita Khoury’s oyster. The bright and driven daughter of a Boston-area Irish-Arab family that has risen over the generations from poor immigrants to part of the coastal elite, Rita grows up in a 1980s cultural mishmash. Corned beef and cabbage sit on the dinner table alongside stuffed grape leaves and tabooleh, all cooked by Rita’s mother, an Irish nurse who met her Lebanese surgeon husband while working at a hospital together. The unconventional yet close-knit family bonds over summers at the beach, wedding line-dances, and a shared obsession with the Red Sox.

Rita charts herself an ambitious path through Harvard to one of the best newspapers in the country. She is posted in cosmopolitan Beirut and dates a handsome Palestinian would-be activist. But when she is assigned to cover the America-led invasion of Baghdad in 2003, she finds herself unprepared for the warzone. Her lifeline is her interpreter and fixer Nabil al-Jumaili, an equally restless young man whose dreams have been restricted by life in a deteriorating dictatorship, not to mention his own seemingly impossible desires. As the war tears Iraq apart, personal betrayal and the horrors of conflict force Rita and Nabil out of the country and into twisting, uncertain fates. What lies in wait will upend their lives forever, shattering their own notions of what they’re entitled to in a grossly unjust world.

Epic in scope, by turns satirical and heartbreaking, and speaking sharply to America’s current moment, Correspondents is a whirlwind story about displacement from one’s own roots, the violence America promotes both abroad and at home, and the resilience that allows families to remake themselves and endure even the most shocking upheavals.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780802129376
Publisher: Grove/Atlantic, Inc.
Publication date: 05/15/2019
Pages: 448
Sales rank: 1,094,747
Product dimensions: 6.20(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.50(d)

About the Author

Tim Murphy is the author of Christodora, longlisted for the Andrew Carnegie Medal. He has reported on HIV/AIDS for twenty years, for such publications as POZ Magazine, where he was an editor and staff writer, Out, Advocate, and New York. He lives in Brooklyn.

Read an Excerpt

As a family, they threaded their way through the tables, joined up hands and at-tached themselves to the end of the line as it snaked its way around the dance floor. Ramona and Nicole Bistany sang together above the clamor. Rita had lived in Beirut long enough to know what the lyrics meant: “My heart is scared of growing up estranged. / And my home wouldn’t recognize me. / Take me home, take me home.”

Rita’s right hand was enlaced in Jonah’s, her left in Bobby’s. To the right and then ever so slightly back to the left, everyone stepped, stepped, kicked, and stomped, repeating this sequence in endless cycles. Ramona and Nicole Bistany joined the end of the line as they continued to sing, linked by a silk handkerchief that each clutched in one hand.

Rita laughed, smiled first at Jonah, then Bobby, who was keeping up with the steps flawlessly. She watched her mother on either side of her nephew and niece, all traces of being put-upon lost, her face in a wide, open expression of pleasure.

Much later Rita wondered whether it was her instincts from Iraq, that adrenaline-induced hyper-attentiveness to one’s surroundings so typical of veterans and others who’ve lived in a war zone, that made her notice, well before anyone else seemed to, the man walking toward the dancers at a strangely swift clip from the parking lot, bent slightly forward, a dark object in his hands that Rita at first could not decipher. Even as she continued to dance, her eyes remained transfixed on him as he came closer toward them. Then she identified the object in his hand, and her heart was stabbed with terror.

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