Comment: This is Dan Fesperman's third book, following
the generally well received novels, Lie in the Dark (2000) and The
Small Boat of Sorrows (2003), both set in the former Yugoslavia -
Fesperman, a reporter for the Baltimore Sun, worked in its Berlin bureau
during the years of the civil war in the former Yugoslavia, and more
recently in Afghanistan.
In The Warlord's Son, Fesperman turns his attention to Afghanistan. Stan Kelly, known in the business as Skelly, used to be an ace war correspondent but in recent years has been reduced to covering local news for a Midwestern daily; that is until a few weeks after 9/11 to cover the 'war on terror' from Afghanistan. Shortly after arriving in Parkistan he hires Najeeb, an English speaking Afgan 'fixer' (a fixer being the necessary human ingredient that enables a foreign journalist who doesn't speak the language, know the people or the customs, to have any chance of reporting on any issue larger than his hotel room). However, Najeeb has a complicated life of his own - he's an outcast from his own clan, involved in an illicit affair and an informer to boot, albeit unwilling.
Together they make the harrowing journey into Afghanistan and manage to join up with a local warlord, but soon their newly formed friendship is put to the test.
As Patrick Anderson, writing for The Washington Post, says 'The Warlord's Son offers a brilliant picture of what might be called the journalistic condition -- specifically, the joys, absurdities and horrors of the foreign correspondent's life -- and it will teach you more than you ever expected to know about tribesmen for whom violence is a given and betrayal is an art [it} deserves the attention of anyone who is open to first-rate fiction about war, journalism and the dark, dangerous worlds called Pakistan and Afghanistan.'
In addition to browsing the excerpt, I recommend you also take a few minutes to read the interview with Fesperman at BookBrowse, in which he discusses a wide range of topics including what it's like to be a reporter on the frontline, and why he believes that 'every culture in the world is just one good shove away from the precipice of barbarism'.
This review is from the September 14, 2005 issue of BookBrowse Recommends. Click here to go to this issue.
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