Land of Marvels

Land of Marvels

by Barry Unsworth
4.5 4

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Overview

Land of Marvels by Barry Unsworth

“There is something of E. M. Forster in Unsworth’s knowing depiction of a decaying empire.”—The New Yorker
In this masterful work of historical fiction set during the dying days of the Ottoman Empire, the schemes of Western powers grappling for a foothold in Mesopotamia come vividly to life. English archaeologist John Sommerville begins excavating a historical site, believing he has uncovered a find that will revolutionize his field. But when the Germans threaten his dig with their railroad, he hires an Arab spy, not recognizing the spies dwelling in his own house.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780091926175
Publisher: Hutchinson Radius
Publication date: 02/28/2009

About the Author

Barry Unsworth (1930-2012), who won the Booker Prize for Sacred Hunger, was a Booker Prize finalist for Morality Play and was long-listed for the Man Booker Prize for The Ruby in Her Navel.

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Land of Marvels 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 4 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
TheReadingWriter More than 1 year ago
In the early part of the 20th century many foreign interests intersected in the Middle East. Barry Unsworth sketches with preternatural skill a British archeologist fruitlessly toiling for years over a dig he finds it increasingly difficult to sustain financially. Stress is added by German railroad and American petroleum contractors encroaching on his stake which he is desperate to believe will yield results shortly. The years leading up to the Great War in Europe were prime for many men of industry, particularly for those in petroleum prospecting. Unsworth shares stories of how those times might have looked, using historical events to bracket his imaginings. It is his characterizations of personalities that ring so true—Lord Rampling, the British industrialist who tramples truth “for the glory of the British empire” while being out-deceived by a loping and sun-bleached American engineer who plays representatives from all countries against his own company’s interests. The tension builds to the last pages, when we learn WWI has begun in Europe, and when that storm has passed, the land we’d seen as a large fragment of the disintegrated Ottoman Empire has become something quite new—a vast new country called Iraq, which had never before been home to a single nation. Erudite, stimulating, large in scope and small in detail, this is a novel to restore one’s interest, should it ever flag, in fiction.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago