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Not Untrue and Not Unkind: A Novel Hardcover – June 10, 2010

4.2 out of 5 stars 6 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

O'Loughlin's mixed debut finds newspaperman Owen Simmons in possession of his dead colleague's files and, more importantly, a secret they contain. It is Simmons's ensuing tale of his African war reporting that promises to reveal what that secret is, but late in the book, when a minor character publishes a memoir of sorts that shares the title and characters of this novel, the reader begins to suspect that Simmons has found in his dead colleague a convenient MacGuffin to string readers through his own war stories. They're good anecdotes that evoke the danger of battle, the horror of its aftermath, and the camaraderie of the brooding and maniacal bigfeet, nomads, fixers, stringers, and lens monkeys who witness it, but the intrigue promised in the first chapter doesn't run evenly through the story, and Simmons doesn't give away enough of himself, leaving readers with no one to really care for. (June)
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From Booklist

Irish journalist Owen Simmons is back at his newspaper in Dublin, comfortably doing as little work as possible, when he happens upon a photograph of himself taken when he was a foreign correspondent in Africa in the wake of the Rwandan genocide. The photo inspires an extended flashback that makes up the bulk of this polished first novel. The narrative tone seems oddly matter of fact, but readers will surmise that correspondents become somewhat desensitized to the horrors of corpses lining roads for miles, epidemics, and orphaned children. But O’Loughlin also recalls a harsh ethical argument about whether correspondents should help an elderly woman bury her grandchild. He also shows them dashing back to their comfortable hotels to file their stories and get on to dinner, drinks, and trading rumors. The author, who covered Africa for the Irish Times, set himself a lofty goal, and he largely achieves it: Not Untrue & Not Unkind, already released in England, was long-listed for the Man Booker Prize, and it vividly re-creates the life of a foreign correspondent. --Thomas Gaughan

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: The Overlook Press (June 10, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1590202953
  • ISBN-13: 978-1590202951
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 1 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,343,614 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Sandra Iler Kirkland VINE VOICE on September 4, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Owen Simmons has a comfortable life these days. His work as a foreign correspondent over, he potters around in the newspaper's home office, doing little real work but a fixture nonetheless. The death of an office mate and the discovery of an old file of Simmons' stories from his time in Africa leads him to wonder why his colleague was interested in his time there and forces him back in his mind to relive those days.

Owen went to Africa as a stringer, a journalist who wrote articles hoping to sell them afterwards to someone. He falls in with the journalist circle there, those with full-time jobs, photographers, TV journalists, print journalists. Although they are all after the same story, they become a society, helping each other and making friends and lovers within the group. Owen travels and befriends various members of the group, including a woman journalist he loves but feels he knows little about.

Owen spends several years there in the 1990's, covering the Rwandan genocide and the various national uprisings. The group becomes hardened to violence and death as they move from one hot spot to another, seeing how little any one death meant in the grand scheme of things. Owen leaves when he is caught in an ambush and gravely wounded. Several of his friends are also in the ambush, and what happened that day and their various fates are the mainspring of the book. There is also a secret associated with the ambush that serves as a focal point of the novel.

Ed O'Loughlin writes from first-hand experience, as he himself spent time in Africa as a correspondent for the Irish Times. Readers will be interested in this subset of war, those who document it so that most of us can experience it comfortably in an armchair.
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By A Customer on June 12, 2010
Format: Hardcover
In Dublin, newspaper editor Cartwright committed suicide. His shocked friends and colleagues cannot believe it. On Cartwright's desk, one of his newspaper buddies Owen Simmons finds a package containing a New York Chronicle photo he took over a decade ago in Africa of newspaper people they worked with. Simmons knows them all, but especially the woman he loved

He thinks back to Africa in the 1990s when they covered the deadly beat of a continent in perilous turmoil. Zaire was overwhelmed with civil war as was Nigeria. However, the worst was Rwanda where the rivers turned red due to the tribal genocide.

Not Untrue & Not Unkind is a profound look back into Africa as the continent implodes with violence as seen though Simmons' flashbacks. The intrepid journalistic crew are horrified with what they witness, report and photograph as atrocities make headlines in the civilized West, which chooses mostly inertia except when economic interests are threatened. Not an easy read, aptly titled Not Untrue and Not Unkind affirms mankind's cruelty to one another as the western journalists, who cannot fathom a rational reason for the violence while also knowing what they have seen will haunt them forever.

Harriet Klausner
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Format: Kindle Edition
I just finished reading this book and I must say that I savored every page. I first learned of it through the Booker prize longlist for 2009. The author has captured human nature in an extraordinary way - it is piercing, unvarnished and honest. The writing is powerful, strong and unique. A number of quotes in the book just stick with me. Here's one of those quotes - where the main character Owen finds himself in a awkward conversation with a co-worker of his and makes this observation: "There would be nothing I could do about it, I knew that in advance. But only in chess do people resign when they know things are hopeless. In life we use up all our pieces first."

There is an incredible atmosphere in the book - and a gritty realism that just pulls you in. I heartily recommend this book, and I look forward to Ed O'Loughlin's next one.

If you like this book, you may also enjoy Arturo Perez-Reverte's Painter of Battles. The Painter of Battles: A Novel It is about a world-weary war correspondent haunted by his experiences.
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