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Acts of Faith Paperback – May 9, 2006
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From The New Yorker
Copyright © 2005 The New Yorker --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top Customer Reviews
Caputo's large cast of characters consists of relief workers in Nuba, an oil-rich area in Sudan--Christian evangelists who bring aid and wish to convert the inhabitants; the International People's Aid group, a humanitarian group from Canada, run by a former Catholic priest; German Emergency Doctors, which operates a local hospital; and the mercenary pilots and owners of small airlines which service the area--along with members of the SPLA; a local Arab warlord allied with the Khartoum government; and members of the international press, most notably CNN.
The novel has a three-fold, rather than single focus--the very real atrocities of war and the real corruption of the Sudanese and Kenyan governments; the real, marginal lives, and real tribal and religious conflicts of the Sudanese people; and the fictional lives, backgrounds, and relationships of the characters. Well over two hundred pages are devoted to the backgrounds of fictional characters, including, sometimes, even the backgrounds of the characters' parents.Read more ›
He places his American characters in the ugly civil war that turn into genocide in the Sudan. As in Vietnam, his Americans believe that they have the answers and know what is best for the local Sudanese. They don't, and from that premise their growing involvement will bring tragedy by the close of the novel.
His storytelling of American do-gooders in way over their heads approaches epic proportions. It has riveting characters whom the reader will care about their respective fates. This is a long tale at nearly 700 pages -- it is double the length of his other books. "Acts of Faith" will hold your interest and haunt you long after you have set it down for the last time.
I found the characters, however, to be closer to symbols for the many factions working in Africa than real people. The dialogue was particularly distracting in places; it just didn't ring true. Nevertheless, these characters well depicted the forces at work -- the American do-gooder, the war lord, the cynic, the evangelist, the rebel leader, the old-rich, the new-rich, and the victim.
One review suggested that Caputo could better tell the story as non-fiction. He is certainly knowledgeable, and after doing a bit of research, the situation in the Sudan seems accurately presented. His strength is not in writing dialogue that is true; however, I would never have read this book if it wasn't presented as a novel. The relationships developed by the characters keep a reader's interest while providing a sound picture of the Sudan.
I loved the title of the book and if there is one thing I will definitely take from the book, it is the illustration of the conviction and fervor of those who were certain they were right -- so certain that the consequences never matter. At the same time, there are those who were never sure of the decisions they had to make, yet they acted. Both could be said to be carrying out acts of faith. Some because they were sure and others because there is simply nothing else to do.
Philip Caputo has taken on a big challenge with this novel. He had to create fictional non-Sudanese characters that would not only be real, but who could also be typical of the aid workers and opportunists attracted to the Sudan. He also tried to explain what it must be like to be Sudanese amidst the depths of upheaval and starvation that is a daily reality. His point of view, however, is through western eyes; the targeted audience are people like myself who are interested in expanding their understanding of peoples and places outside of their experience.
In order to achieve his goal, he created a handful of memorable characters. Quinette is an evangelical Christian from Iowa. She wants to do the right thing and help people. And she thinks that her church group's mission to purchase slaves in order to free them is good deed. She doesn't see how this action can perpetrate slave trade. However, as she continues to live in the Sudan, fall in love with a rebel leader, and get caught up in some controversial actions herself, she soon discovers the hard choices that have to be made.
There are two other American characters. One is Douglas Braithwaite, who starts up an small-plane airline to deliver aid to the Sudanese. Another is Wesley from Texas, one of his pilots. Another pilot is the attractive Canadian woman, Mary.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
At times I thought this was a book by an unaccomplished author. THIS book certainly is not of Pulitzer quality. Read morePublished 2 months ago by R.L.D.
Have worked and lived n Sub-Saharan Africa. Caputo captures the daily life of ordinary Africans very well.Published 3 months ago by Bert E Wallace
Way too long. With the 3 romantic relationships, it was often more a romance novel than anything else.Published 6 months ago by Amazon Customer
One of the many lessons to be learned in this terrific novel is that crash-landing a plane anywhere is always going to be a problem, but crash-landing your plane in Africa means... Read morePublished 7 months ago by Paul McGrath
Philip Caputo's book is one of my all-time favorite books. He is an excellent writer, bringing his characters and the scenery to life. Read morePublished 9 months ago by Annette Harvill Maxwell
Eye opening view of how international aid groups are not only businesses first and foremost, but also how the services they provide enable despots to act with more barbarity, since... Read morePublished 10 months ago by Cameraman
Another Caputo book that opens up a world and takes you through an unknown place and grounds you in difficult and horrific circumstances. Read more
Caputo has a near epic novel. The story speaks to war, love, survival, mysticism and traditional chritianity; and all of the above are major themes in "Acts of Faith. Read morePublished 18 months ago by gonzoguru