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A Day and a Night and a Day: A Novel Hardcover – January 6, 2009

4.5 out of 5 stars 8 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

British writer Duncan's cerebral, propulsive seventh novel (after The Bloodstone Papers) digs with philosophical intensity into the timely question of what makes both a terrorist and a torturer tick—with a twist: the terrorist is Augustus Rose, an African-Italian-American former journalist turned successful New York restaurateur. Rose, recruited during his naïve youth into an international organization that practices vigilante democracy, is imprisoned in Guantánamo, where Harper, an efficiently cruel U.S. operative, interrogates him, providing the main thread of the novel's three plot lines. The second recounts Rose's complex romance with Selina, which blossomed in 1968 when he was age 21 and ended three decades later with her death in a Barcelona bombing. The third sees a post-torture Rose retire to a bleak British island where he's awaiting death, until he's drawn into the violent world of a girl who befriends him. Duncan describes physical pain and emotional anguish with dramatically distilled, merciless prose, all the while carving a wondrous love story out of a tragic contemporary world where torture has become a numbing norm. (Jan.)
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From Booklist

A fiercely intelligent writer with an appetite for the large moral questions, Duncan centers his latest novel on unlikely terrorist Augustus Rose, a biracial child of Harlem now secreted in a stifling room in Morocco. He is being systematically interrogated by a chinos-clad American agent named Harper, who spews glib, deeply cynical opinions (“The master’s degree in torture is only a few years away”) in between instructing the guards on how to best inflict pain on Augustus if he doesn’t give Harper the information he wants. To escape the pain, Augustus retreats to his memories of the influential women in his life—his generous, joyful Italian American mother, who was blackballed by her family for giving birth to him; the dispirited, emotionally wounded woman who recruited him as a terrorist; and, especially, Selena, the beautiful white girl he fell in love with during the sixties. As Augustus engages in ethical debates with his interrogator, Duncan eloqently poses some of the most pressing questions of the day. Alternately harrowing and philosophical, this is provocative fiction of the first order. --Joanne Wilkinson

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Ecco; 1 edition (January 6, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061239992
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061239991
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,499,122 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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By Harriet Klausner #1 HALL OF FAME on January 10, 2009
Format: Hardcover
They are both Americans linked forever in their respective minds by the Global War on Terrorism. They perform a dance ritual several times a day, but in a part of America not within the fifty states. Instead operative Harper tortures alleged terrorist Rose in a dark cell in the pits of Guantanamo expecting to extract information like a dentist taking out a tooth without Novocain.

The African-Italian Rose expects to die here because the CIA and White House can hide the fact they have tortured an American citizen at Gitmo. Up until his snatch he was a Manhattan restaurant owner with a past. Rose thinks back to the 1950s growing up in Harlem where he was condemned for his Italian paternal roots leading a decade later to Merkete easily recruiting him as a soldier in her "vigilante democracy" movement, which the Americans called terrorism. He remembers 1968 when he was twenty-one and in love with Selina; thirty years later she died in a Barcelona bombing. Finally he is old and alone expecting death once again while on some bleak British island; but even there he is pulled back into the violence of humanity when he meets a girl.

This is a fascinating character study that condemns the Bush legacy of torture accepted by Americans as a standard operating procedure regardless of the information obtained or the victim's worth. Although Rose is the prime star, he shines when he is compared with Harper as Glen Duncan digs deep into each of their souls to uncover what motivates a terrorist and an inquisitioner to act the way they do: Intriguingly each claims the moral high ground of their end objective condoning the means they use. The Selina and the post-Gitmo subplots are also well written; but it is comparing the inspirations of the two antagonistic Americans that turns this into a terrific intelligent look at a world that has become anesthetized to genocide, terrorism, and torture.

Harriet Klausner
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Format: Hardcover
I thoroughly enjoyed this book! I'm not going to give a summary because the prior reviewers have covered that quite well already.

It's simply thrilling to read a book that makes you think. There are fewer and fewer of books like this being written. The interaction between Mr. Rose and his interrogator is disturbing, fascinating, and sad. The love story is epic and, though it might be cliché in its make up, it has touching depth. The way the writer explains how Rose's love feels and what it means to him is amazing. I haven't even mentioned the interesting ways in which the book explores torture, religion, love, war, and our own perception of our world.

I do have to admit that I am a fan of Mr. Duncan's writing style, but this can be off-putting for some readers. I have heard in called self-indulgent and I would not disagree, but I still love it.

And for those worried about lengthy descriptions of torture, there aren't any. We are told what is done to Rose but it is not described in detail. The author even tells us why he writes it this way, if you are paying attention. These sections are still disturbing but not graphic.

All in all a great read!
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Format: Hardcover
Augustus Rose, an American member of a known terrorist group, is tortured for the length of the title by his American captors, most specifically a singular agent named Harper, whose cruelty exists side by side with his philosophical, conversational manner. As the two men are locked in a horrific psychological battle, the life of Augustus Rose unfolds.

His erratic mother, Juliet, whose marriage to a black man produced the son she loved but had little time for; Elise, the radical who indoctrinated Augustus into the underground; and mostly Selina, the love of Augustus' life - all of these women are centers around which Augustus gathers mentally to deal with the brutality of his interrogation.

Intertwined with the somewhat linear unspooling runs the narrative of the broken-down and older Augustus, hiding anonymously on a remote British island and dealing with a different, and then not so different, set of challenges. This is a riveting read - a life story rich in love and sadness in equal measure - well, not equal, but one should read to see how that works out. Also a timely novel, when America's `war on terror' is so much a part of daily life
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Format: Hardcover
In 1959, Dinah Washington recorded a song that told us how different a span of a day can be. Just 24 little hours. In Glen Duncan's novel, this idea expands to 72 hours. For the main character, Augustus Rose - 72 hours can be both not enough, or agonizingly slow - perhaps to the point where you lose all concept of time and driven to the brink of insanity.
Augustus Rose is a complex character, he is a handsome bi-racial man with startling green eyes he inherited from his Italian mother. He doesn't say much, his demeanor is stoic, always guarded and he is difficult to reach. His personality is not necessarily open and comfortable. While this is not a warm and fuzzy for Happy Hour conversations, it IS the type of personality that does well under torture. And that's how we first meet August Rose - hanging in a windowless cell by hand-cuffs, his torturer a fellow American named Harper.
According to the publisher, Duncan's A Day and a Night and a Day is a "modern Grand Inquisition, in which love, loyalty, reason, and truth are on trial, and morality hangs in the balance". No kidding - but Rose is an unlikely spy, he's not a professional at all in this field, in fact, he runs a string of successful restaurants back in New York. So what is he doing being interrogated rather horribly by some guy wearing khakis from The Gap? Well, that answer comes eventually but for now - Rose is on his own and beyond the law as Harper, it appears is a representative of it, and there's really no hope of escape. Rose endures an emotional and physical assault that brings his whole life under scrutiny: his race, religion, politics, and past, the people he has loved, and the few he is still desperate to protect. Alone and certain of death, Augustus raises the only shield he has: memory.
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