Peacekeeping

Mischa Berlinski. FSG/Sarah Crichton, $27 (400p) ISBN 978-0-374-23044-9
In tones that shift effortlessly from journalistic to atmospheric to deeply, darkly funny, Berlinski (Fieldwork) evokes a very detailed sense of place in his second novel. Set in Jérémie, a small town on the southwestern peninsula of Haiti, on the edge the “azure stage” of the Caribbean—where “life is fragile, transient: any day might be your last”—we are introduced to Terry White, a former deputy sheriff and failed Florida politician, who, looking for redemption in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis, takes a position with the United Nations Police peacekeeping mission. Terry is drawn first by his close relationship with the brilliant American-educated judge Johel Célestin and then by the judge’s beautiful, enigmatic, green-eyed wife, Nadia (“Haiti,” according to our narrator, a writer in Jérémie accompanying his wife, who is a member of the UN mission, “was a place that sunk tentacles down deep into the soul”). The political and personal become entangled as Terry encourages the judge to challenge the long-standing Senatéur Maxim Bayard’s hold on the region and build a road between the town and Port Au Prince. In the Judge’s words, “A mango tree and a road are school fees for your child... A mango tree without a road is a pile of fruit.” The narrator is an unnamed friend of Terry’s well-meaning and sociable wife, Kay, and the story unfolds as his account of the events. Berlinski himself lived in Jérémie while his wife worked for the UN, and the pages are steeped in verisimilitude, even (and perhaps more so) when the story tips to the outrageous. This is a fascinating and well-plotted novel. Agent: Susan Ginsburg, Writers House. (Mar.)
Reviewed on: 01/18/2016
Release date: 03/08/2016
Genre: Fiction
Downloadable Audio - 978-1-4272-7124-2
Ebook - 978-0-374-71516-8
Paperback - 400 pages - 978-1-250-11804-2
Compact Disc - 978-1-4272-7885-2
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