The Last Armenian

Francis Rolt, Author St. Martin's Press $13.95 (193p) ISBN 978-0-312-01783-5
Rolt has a Conradian gift for using an exotic setting to dramatically isolate and shape his principal character's destiny. Chittagong, in Bangladesh, is a world of clamorous conflictsreligious, political, socialand bedrock poverty, awash in colorful sights, sounds, textures and ancient customs. Our viewpoint is that of a young Englishman, Charles, who has come to Chittagong to teach at the university. Succumbing to ""the enveloping hallucination'' of the gaudy spectacle of daily life in Chittagong, Charles also falls in love with a beautiful and headstrong native woman, Shiuli, who lives with her adopted father Jo, an engineer and the last Armenian residing in this ancient port city. The relationship between Shiuli and Charles undergoes a dramatic change when Jo dies in a mysterious car accident. Caught between fateful political forces, the lovers are drawn into the treacherous undertow of guerrilla war between the tribal people of Bangladesh and the Bengali army. Charles himself finds his loyalty to Shiuli severely tested by his instinct for self-preservation, his need to extricate himself from the vortex of violence. An adroitly executed first novel distinguished by a sympathetic familiarity with Bangladesh, this is a romance written with humane worldiness and craft and steeped in the insouciant corruption and intrigues of isolated Third World enclaves. (May)
Reviewed on: 01/01/1987
Release date: 01/01/1987
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