John Edgar Wideman, Author . Houghton Mifflin $24 (229p) ISBN 978-0-618-94263-3

Psychiatrist and revolutionary Frantz Fanon (1925–1961) fought to free Algeria from French rule, and wrote several key texts on colonialism, including The Wretched of the Earth . Wideman (Brothers and Keepers ) offers a fragmented look at Fanon's life, presenting three narratives in fits and starts. The first documents episodes from Fanon's life, including his Martinique childhood and death in a Bethesda, Md., hospital. In the second, a 60-year-old novelist named Thomas writes a screenplay about Fanon that he hopes to sell to Jean-Luc Godard, and, in a jarring narrative turn, receives a package that contains his own head. In the third, a character named John Edgar Wideman writes about his “twin” (Thomas), wrestles with his obsession with Fanon, visits his imprisoned brother Rob and thinks about his wheelchair-bound mother in the Homewood section of Pittsburgh (where Wideman grew up and has set many past stories). Some of the Fanon anecdotes are excellent, but the book as a whole is a series of glittering dead ends, interspersed with thoughts on writing and current affairs, and the irritating story of Thomas's head. Beautifully written but inconclusive, Wideman's 18th book is best approached as a meditation on fiction and character. (Feb.)

Reviewed on: 09/03/2007
Release date: 02/01/2008
Genre: Fiction
Paperback - 229 pages - 978-0-547-08616-3
Downloadable Audio - 978-1-4561-0625-6
Open Ebook - 240 pages - 978-0-547-34905-3
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