From Publishers Weekly
Over intervals from five separate months in 1984—the fourth year of the Iran-Iraq war—debut novelist Mullaney tells a harrowing story of life under Saddam. In the hall-of-mirrors atmosphere of Baghdad, one's duties to the state are done and overdone, and Ibrahim Galeb al-Mansur continues to serve the ministry of culture as a muralist (huge Saddams) even after five soldiers of the Republican Guard break into his apartment and gang rape Shalira al-Mahoudi, his fiancée. Meanwhile, Daniella Burkett, of the London Times
, braves the nightly bombardments to spend time with her lover, the New York Times
's Michael Young. Michael's visit to the hospital where his government minder, Quadro, is recuperating (he stepped on a mine) serves to draw Michael into a web of partisan intrigue—he makes and loses friends virtually simultaneously, and, in time, makes the rare acquaintance of his own better self. Shalira finds herself pregnant with a rapist's child and spares Ibrahim's honor by taking her own life. In response, Ibrahim takes over the leadership of polyglot local dissidents. Mullaney's is that rare war narrative that doesn't depend on carnage for the lasting impression it creates; his culture ministry is ultimately a department of the human interior. (May)
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About the Author
JAMES P. MULLANEY lives on Long Island. He is a graduate of Providence College. This is his first novel.