Friday, April 02, 2010

NOT UNTRUE AND NOT UNKIND "Contains Equal Measures of Beauty and Brutality"

Ed O'Loughlin's debut novel, Not Untrue and Not Unkind, is reviewed in Kirkus: "A novel of Africa that focuses on politics and personal relationships. The narrative begins with a death and a photograph. The death is that of Cartwright, a newspaper editor who we find out has died by suicide, while the photograph had been taken ten years before by the narrator, Owen Simmons. The subjects in the photo are some of his newspaper colleagues: Fine, Tommo, Beatrice and Charlie Brereton. This image catalyzes a series of flashbacks, and we slowly get acquainted with the characters and with the circumstances that gave rise to the photo. Africa in the 1990s was in chaos, with uprisings in Zaire, genocide in Rwanda and rebellions in Nigeria. This crew of itinerant journalists—some stringers, some covering Africa for respected newspapers—follow the mayhem and try to make sense of what's going on. In some ways the violence of African politics is merely a backdrop to the real action—the personal dramas that entangle the journalists themselves. Even O'Loughlin's spare style is reminiscent of Hemingway's, for while violence becomes an integral part of the landscape, Owen numbs himself in order to maintain objectivity and sanity. Contains equal measures of beauty and brutality."

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