Sunday, October 14, 2012

The New Republic by Lionel Shriver

Edgar Kellogg must have been insane.  He threw over a promising career as a corporate lawyer to try his luck at being a journalist.  Of course, people with actual journalistic experience are having difficulties finding work in the changing newspaper environment, but that doesn't deter Edgar.  He uses some old connections to wrest an interview and emerges from that experience with an assignment as a stringer in Barba, Portugal.  The paper needs a stringer as their assigned reporter to the area has gone missing.

Barba?  Haven't heard of it?  You're not alone, no one would have except for the terrorist actions going on there.  Barba is a remotely settled, backwards region that has one claim to fame; a rebel terrorist organziation that is willing to bomb regardless of loss of life in their quest to gain Barba's independance from Portugal.

Edgar arrives in town ready to take up where the missing reporter, Barrington Saddler, has left off.  He has keys to Saddler's house and car, his office and former work.  He finds Saddler's favorite bar and meets the other journalists covering the independance group.  He forms relationships with them and interviews those Barbaians willing to go on record.  In short, he is primed for the story of his life. 

But nothing is happening.  The terrorists seem to have gone into hibernation.  Is this just Edgar's bad luck, or is something more going on?  Edgar's determination to discover what happened to Saddler and why the bombings have stopped leads him to the story of his life; a story sure to make any journalist's career.

Lionel Shriver has written an entertaining, dark comedy about the entire topic of terrorism, and particularly how it is covered by journalists.  There is a symbiotic relationship between the two groups as neither can exist without the other.  Shriver is known for novels that touch on relevant topics and The New Republic is no different.  This book is recommended for readers interested in how news is reported and even shaped by the men and women who devote their lives to explaining the world to the rest of us. 

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