Correspondents: Book summary and reviews of Correspondents by Tim Murphy

Correspondents

by Tim Murphy

Correspondents by Tim Murphy X
Correspondents by Tim Murphy
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  • Published in USA  May 2019
    448 pages
    Genre: Novels

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Book Summary

Epic in scope, by turns satirical and heartbreaking, and speaking sharply to America's current moment, Correspondents is a whirlwind story about displacement from one's own roots, the violence America promotes both abroad and at home, and the resilience that allows families to remake themselves and endure even the most shocking upheavals.

The world is Rita Khoury's oyster. The bright and driven daughter of a Boston-area Irish-Arab family that has risen over the generations from poor immigrants to part of the coastal elite, Rita grows up in a 1980s cultural mishmash. Corned beef and cabbage sit on the dinner table alongside stuffed grape leaves and tabooleh, all cooked by Rita's mother, an Irish nurse who met her Lebanese surgeon husband while working at a hospital together. The unconventional yet close-knit family bonds over summers at the beach, wedding line-dances, and a shared obsession with the Red Sox.

Rita charts herself an ambitious path through Harvard to one of the best newspapers in the country. She is posted in cosmopolitan Beirut and dates a handsome Palestinian would-be activist. But when she is assigned to cover the America-led invasion of Baghdad in 2003, she finds herself unprepared for the warzone. Her lifeline is her interpreter and fixer Nabil al-Jumaili, an equally restless young man whose dreams have been restricted by life in a deteriorating dictatorship, not to mention his own seemingly impossible desires. As the war tears Iraq apart, personal betrayal and the horrors of conflict force Rita and Nabil out of the country and into twisting, uncertain fates. What lies in wait will upend their lives forever, shattering their own notions of what they're entitled to in a grossly unjust world.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"A surprisingly moving war novel alert to global violence and politics but thriving on the character level." - Kirkus Reviews, starred review

"Murphy is himself of Irish-Levantine ancestry, and early chapters about Rita's heritage swell with affectionate detail. But the geographic and cultural canvas of this work is much larger, and its message of empathy and respect for cultural nuance aims at an audience as big as America itself." - Booklist, starred review

"Murphy's authorial voice also frequently intrudes in the narrative, as when he uses Arabic words for foods and then immediately explains them in English. The resulting story comes across as more instructive than immersive." - Publishers Weekly

"Distinctive in his look at Iraq, Murphy can also be strident as he touches upon foreign intervention, gun control, Far Right conspiracy theorists, the taboo of being gay in the Middle East and much more. How readers view the book may depend on how they feel about these issues themselves." - Library Journal

"Correspondents is the novel I've been hoping would emerge for a long time...ultimately, the story of Rita and Nabil transcends categorization itself to become a human epic, one you won't soon forget." - Elliot Ackerman, author of Waiting for Eden

"Correspondents is an ambitious and confident novel that succeeds brilliantly in being both epic and intimate...Murphy's imagination, insight, and empathy are extraordinary, and in Correspondents as in his previous novel Christodora he has produced an important political and historical document as well as an immensely entertaining read." - Stephen McCauley, author of My Ex-Life

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Author Information

Tim Murphy

Tim Murphy is the author of Christodora, longlisted for the Andrew Carnegie Medal. He has reported on HIV/AIDS for twenty years, for such publications as POZ Magazine, where he was an editor and staff writer, Out, Advocate, and New York. He lives in Brooklyn.

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