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Exiles in America: A Novel Hardcover – Deckle Edge, August 29, 2006


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: William Morrow; First Edition edition (August 29, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0739475541
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061138348
  • ASIN: 0061138347
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.2 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,958,263 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Bram uneasily weds religion and the politics of sexual orientation in his tepid eighth novel. Daniel Wexler, 47, and Zachary Knowles, 48, together for 21 years, live in Williamsburg, Va., where Daniel teaches painting at William and Mary College and Zack maintains a psychiatry practice. The other, more literal, exiles are Abbas and Elena Rohani. A painter, Abbas is a visiting faculty member at the college and embodies the swarthy, omnisexual, selfish and impossibly handsome artist stereotype. Daniel's initial artistic jealousy of Abbas turns into an attraction that, thanks to the convenient open status of everyone's relationships, barrels toward consummation. The affair becomes more intense than intended, precipitating pages of fights between Daniel and Zack. It also crystallizes the unlikely alliance between Zack and Elena. After the affair founders, the FBI begins investigating Abbas's relationship with his brother, sparking even more emotional turmoil, but the novel falls short of its dramatic potential. (Sept.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Review

“What is love?. . . [Bram’s] enthralling . . . story challenges us to broaden our search for answers.” (USA Today)

“The predicaments Bram has set up for his characters are interesting . . . [and] compelling.” (Washington Post Book World)

“Christopher Bram’s latest novel, Exiles in America, is so compulsively readable it’s easy to overlook its brimming wisdom.” (The Advocate)

“A thoughtful domestic melodrama set in the last days before the beginning of the current war.” (Kirkus Reviews)

“Potent and intoxicating…sexy, riveting and psychologically satisfying.” (Genre)

“A major ‘gay novel’—however you define that…Bram pulls it off…empathetic and enlightening, politically savvy and emotionally sophisticated.” (The Guide)

“This intricate, emotionally layered novel is one of the best I’ve read in years…brilliant, soul-wrenching, heart-penetrating.” (Providence Sunday Journal)

Customer Reviews

After 300+ pages the author actually throws it to the reader to finish it.
Lawrence J. Frank
The dialogue about character, personality, and sex rings so unreal that I found the book boring and just gave up reading it.
Martin P
His sharp dialogue and realistic buildup of complications keep the story fresh and true.
Chad Sosna

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Harriet Klausner #1 HALL OF FAME on September 2, 2006
Format: Hardcover
In Williamsburg, Virginia, in their late forties William and Mary professor Daniel Wexler and psychiatrist Zachary Knowles have been a happily "unmarried" couple for over two decades yet. However, they look so solid to everyone who knows either of them that they assume the pair will remain together until one dies. However, their close loving relationship no longer includes sex between them; instead Daniel has affairs while Zack has become celibate.

When the college's resident artist of the year arrives, Iranian Abbas Rohani and his Russian spouse Elena with their two children, Zack and Daniel are the first to truly welcome them by inviting them to dinner. While Zack and Elena hold an intelligent discussion, Daniel tries to impress the arrogant attractive Abbas by showing him his paintings. Zack and Elena begin to forge a close friendship, but Abbas devastates Daniel by saying his paintings are poor. After seeing Abbas' superior work, Daniel and the Iranian hunk begin an affair that threaten both marriages at the same time that Abbas' pious older brother Hassan demands he and his wife return to Iran immediately.

This is a well written interesting relationship drama starring four fascinating protagonists that is a modernizing of the late 1960s movie "Bob and Carol and Ted and Alice". The story line digs deep into the four prime players mostly through their relationships with the other three in a sort of rectangular connection. Though at times Christopher Bram seems to want to normalize the coupling which takes away from the prime premise that relationships come in all forms, fans who appreciate a deep character study will enjoy this fascinating look at Zack and Daniel and Abbas and Elena.

Harriet Klausner
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Chad Sosna on January 2, 2007
Format: Hardcover
It's intimidating to review a writer with the stature of Christopher Bram, but fortunately, this excellent novel does not disappoint.

Exiles in America centers almost entirely on two couples and the complications that bloom among them. There's Zack and Daniel, a late-40s gay couple, together for 21 years, who don't have sex with each other anymore. The other couple is Abbas and Elena Rohani. Abbas is a visiting art professor at the university where Daniel teaches.

An innocent invitation by Zack and Daniel to have the Rohanis for dinner because they're new in town leads to an affair between Daniel and Abbas, who is bisexual. None of this is secret, and soon the left-out spouses, Zack and Elena, find through sharing notes about the affair that they have a growing friendship.

The reader's interest holds as Abbas' dissatisfaction over his career as a painter slides all over the emotional scale, affecting the foursome in turn. It's 2002 and early 2003, just when the Iraq War is beginning, and this event colors their lives in ways they can't imagine--including creepy visits to all of them from the FBI.

It's hard to believe that the ruminations of relationships and the everyday lives of four fairly ordinary people can hold a reader's interest, but Bram's expert hand at characterization makes you want to be there as each layer of each character is peeled away. His sharp dialogue and realistic buildup of complications keep the story fresh and true.

While I don't normally like frequent viewpoint switches, Bram is masterful at the subtle transfer from one voice to another, even in the same paragraph--something I would never try in my own fiction.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Grady Harp HALL OF FAMETOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on January 7, 2007
Format: Hardcover
That Christopher Bram is one of our finer novelists today is a given (The Notorious Dr. August: His Real Life and Crimes, Gods and Monsters, Life of the Circus Animals, In Memory of Angel Clare, etc). EXILES IN AMERICA is a very astutely constructed novel, one that explores the concept of displaced persons, whether those persons be gay men in a straight homophobic town, artists in a world of grounded minds, immigrant visitors in the land of the free, or Muslims in a path of fear guarded closely by the Christian ethic. Mix these possible people in a country post 9/11 and prior to America's (read Bush's) declaration of war on Iraq and there is a story brooding.

For the most part Bram finely tunes this novel with well-drawn characterizations, a gift he continues to elucidate in his writing. But something has entered Bram's writing mind that is a bit disturbing: he seems to have lost some of the respect for his readers that has never happened prior to his novel. There are moments of 'dumbing down' the reader by excessive explanations of obvious knowns and even stumbling at the close of the book to speak not in the voice of the characters he has created but in his own vacillating voice as a writer - a section of this otherwise fairly tense read that breaks the magic and adds little.

Daniel, an artist with painter's block who now only teaches art in Williamsburg, VA, and Zack, a psychiatrist who has given up his New York practice to follow Daniel to his present college teaching position, have been together as a couple for twenty one years, the last ten years at least of which have been an 'open marriage': both men are agreed that transient liaisons outside of their marriage are acceptable as long as they talk about them.
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More About the Author

Christopher Bram is the author of nine novels, including Father of Frankenstein, which was made into the Academy Award-winning movie Gods and Monsters, starring Ian McKellen. Bram grew up outside of Norfolk, Virginia, where he was a paperboy and an Eagle Scout. He graduated from the College of William and Mary in 1974 and moved to New York City in 1978. In addition to Father of Frankenstein, he has written numerous articles and essays. His most recent book, Eminent Outlaws: The Gay Writers Who Changed America, is a literary history. Bram was a Guggenheim Fellow in 2001, and in 2003, he received Publishing Triangle's Bill Whitehead Award for Lifetime Achievement. He lives in Greenwich Village and teaches at New York University.

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