Sea Level

Roger King, Author Poseidon Press $19.5 (250p) ISBN 978-0-671-75458-7
In a strong American debut, British author King ( Written on a Stranger's Map ) explores themes of personal discovery and professional disenchantment. William Bender, a British consultant for such international financial organizations as the World Bank and the IMF, is prompted by news of his father's death to reassess his own life. On the South Pacific island of Ruatua, where he's trying to resolve problems caused by previous international meddling, Bender contemplates his childhood and his relationships with his wife, his lovers, in particular the Chinese woman Han and his Ruatuan lover Emo, and his colleagues. He realizes that he is world-weary, no longer emotionally suited to pull off high-level financial deals that require him to ignore the various economic abuses, shady doings and outright crime they often entail. The heart of the novel, however, is his struggle to find his identity. Both he and other characters are not quite what they seem and some have more than one name--Bender, for example, is known as Will, William and Bill. After a somewhat slow beginning, King delivers an elegaic and intelligent study of Bender's growing self-awareness, his increasing willingness to face the truth--and lies--of his past and his simultaneous disillusionment. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 01/01/1992
Release date: 01/01/1992
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