cover image The Forgiven

The Forgiven

Lawrence Osborne. Random/Hogarth, $25 (288p) ISBN 978-0-307-88903-4

Osborne’s rich new novel (after the nonfiction Bangkok Days) follows British couple David and Jo Henniger into the Moroccan desert for a debauched weekend at their friends’ palatial ksar. Driving to the estate, David is distracted while arguing with Jo, and consequently hits and kills a young Moroccan. When they arrive at the party, corpse in tow, their hosts help David deal with the police while the servants keep vigil with the body. The next morning, the dead boy’s father, Abdellah, arrives and demands that David return with him to help bury his son. No sooner has David departed and left Jo behind than charming American Tom Day sets his amorous sights on the unhappily married Jo. Meanwhile, Abdellah weighs whether to avenge his son’s death by killing David. Although the Hennigers finally begin to scrutinize their choices (as unflinchingly as Osborne surveys his characters), their repentance may not be enough to sway their fates. With nods to Paul Bowles and Evelyn Waugh, Osborne portrays the vacuity of high society as gorgeously and incisively as he does the unease of cultures thrust together in the unforgiving desert. Agent: Adam Eaglin, the Wylie Agency. (Sept.)