“Brilliant, start to finish. . . . It’s clear and deep and wise, and very few contemporary novels can make that claim.”
“Dr. Huyler’s writing is quiet, precise, spellbinding from beginning to end. . . . Easily holds with the best contemporary fiction.”
“A book to treasure. It is a riveting tale of our time, at once haunting and inspiring, provocative and insightful. It will stay with me for a long time.”
“One of the finest novels I’ve read in years. . . . A timely, powerful exploration into the uses and limits of benevolence . . . the limits of what’s good and decent in the American character.”
“Lyrical, moving, gripping. . . . A dark, compelling story about moral ambition and its pitfalls-a necessary book for this moment in America’s imperial history.”
Doctor-author Huyler offers in his first novel (after story collection The Laws of Invisible Things) a clear-eyed if occasionally overwrought exploration of grief and redemption in a refugee camp set in an unnamed mountainous Islamic country. After witnessing his wife's slow death, cardiologist Charles Anderson volunteers to be the doctor at a remote refugee camp set up in the aftermath of an earthquake. He is joined by Elise, a German geneticist studying the DNA of a mountain tribe, and Sanjit Rai, a local military officer assigned to protect the camp. As the days pass and the refugees fail to appear, Anderson questions the motivations of those who put him there and his own reasons for fleeing into the mountains, including his decision to not face his devastated son. Anderson's desire to heal becomes twisted up with the clash between east and west, rich and poor, as well as with regional conflict. The prose is sturdy and evocative in this perhaps too sincere and sentimental exploration of what limited power any given individual has to change the world. (May)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Emergency physician Huyler (The Laws of Invisible Things, 2004, etc.) again makes good use of his medical background in his second novel, about a doctor seeking redemption in a devastated mountain region. After his wife Rachel dies, Charles Anderson feels adrift. His work as a cardiologist no longer consumes him, and son Eric has been estranged by Charles' failure to summon him home in time to say goodbye to his mother. On impulse, the dispirited doctor attends a lecture by aid worker Scott Coles, who describes his organization's relief efforts in an unnamed country (similar to Pakistan) ravaged by a recent earthquake and in constant border conflicts with its neighbor. Charles volunteers, believing that humanitarian work might save him. This is the jumping-off point for a vivid and compassionate narrative whose alien setting and complex protagonist bring new richness to Huyler's writing. At his volunteer post, Charles finds himself in the company of Captain Rai, a brusque military advisor, and Elise, a considerate nurse and researcher. The seven-year-old whose leg he reluctantly amputates, and an unanticipated liaison with Elise, are the unlikely purveyors of hope to the flailing protagonist. But the purpose of his journey escapes him as artillery fire arrives in lieu of refugees. "I'd come all this way for an empty tent city and a one-legged girl. A wind-scoured field of stones on the other side of the earth . . . My plunge into the unknown, my step into this other world, where I hoped to lose myself in an abundance of need-and so few of my hopes had come true." Deepened by Huyler's knowledgeable depiction of improvisational medicine and his gift for poetic narration, this is a resonanttale that eschews easy resolution. A timely, disquieting reflection on mortality, war and the startling dichotomy between the affluent West and the impoverished Third World. Author events in Albuquerque, Phoenix, Santa Fe