A compelling story about a woman whose obsessions with a great writer inspires her to commit an act with unforeseen consequences. The author's "Winners & Losers" won a National Book Award in 1978.A compelling story about a woman whose obsessions with a great writer inspires her to commit an act with unforeseen consequences. The author's "Winners & Losers" won a National Book Award in 1978.Read Less
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Publishers Weekly, 2000-08-04 In Graham Greene's short story "The Lottery Ticket," a na´ve American tries to assist a Third World country and instead sows discord and pain. The same thing happens to heiress Molly Benson, the main character in Emerson's sobering first novel. Molly has long been obsessed with the English author, and especially with his feeling for the Third World; she met Greene in Antibes in 1977, and has corresponded with him since. (The bits of Greene's letters included here are really his, a preface states?he sent them "to an American friend.") Molly's brother, Harry, a political journalist, died?nobly, she believes?in Central America, in 1981. The narrative begins in 1991 with Greene's own death, which proves another turning point in Molly's life: she decides to travel to Algeria "in the hope of rescuing a few writers there." There, Molly, accompanied by a childhood friend and a British graduate student she met in a bookstore, descends upon two monks, one the brother-in-law of her mother's hairdresser. Selfish in their intended selflessness, the well-meaning Americans disrupt the monks' lives, inspire a violent uprising in the casbah and end up endangering the people they came to save. Her Algerian experiences force Molly to confront reality, and undermine her ideas about her brother and about Greene. Emerson's nonfiction includes Winners & Losers (about the Vietnam War, and a National Book Award winner) and Gaza: A Year in the Intifada. Obviously, her travels and her research inform this fascinating chronicle of Algeria's political plight in the early '90s. Greene's devotees will enjoy the ways in which Emerson's prose and plots respond to Greene's?a touch of The Quiet American here, a bit of The Power and the Glory there. But Molly?her stubborn na´vetÚ, her self-importance and her eventual disillusion?will be the focus of the readers' attention. In Emerson's hands, she is both pathetic and sympathetic. At the same time, the novel raises provocative questions about "benign" tourism, politics and charity, questions about good intentions and about unintended, disastrous effects. (Oct.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
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