No Other Life

Brian Moore, Author Nan A. Talese $21 (223p) ISBN 978-0-385-41515-6
In a work as compelling as his Booker-shortlisted Lies of Silence , Moore tells a swift, spellbinding tale of faith and politics that is plainly based on recent events in Haiti, whose priest/president Aristide is still in exile. The priest/president of Moore's fictional Ganae is Jeannot, a brilliant black boy plucked from rural poverty by the Canadian missionary who tells the story. Jeannot becomes a highly charismatic priest, draws an enormous following from among the poor and becomes enmeshed, inevitably, in island politics as an outspoken enemy of the corrupt army, the mulatto elite, drug dealers and American business interests. As a priest, he also becomes embroiled with Rome (since, as a cynical fellow priest remarks, ``Liberation theology is out of date. This is a capitalist world and we have to live in it.'') The issue of whether a priest has a duty to help the poor in their material lives or simply to concentrate on their immortal souls is at the heart of the novel, but it is by no means a didactic affair; for one thing, Jeannot is created with real passion. Written with great speed and economy, but with a strikingly brooding atmosphere, the narrative hastens to an enigmatic and mournful conclusion. This is the best writing Moore has done in many years, and certainly bears comparison with that other 20th-century classic about Haiti, Graham Greene's The Comedians. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 08/02/1993
Release date: 08/01/1993
Genre: Fiction
Hardcover - 281 pages - 978-0-8161-5897-3
Paperback - 223 pages - 978-0-452-27878-3
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