Exiles

M. Cruz, Author Permanent Press (NY) $28 (294p) ISBN 978-0-932966-71-1
If this nation can survive its own Foreign Serviceas it is portrayed here from an insider's jaundiced perspective (Cruz is, we are told, the wife of an American diplomat)it can survive anything. The scene opens in 1969 in Vientiane, where Harry Mann, a career diplomat, is preparing for transfer to Amman. Mercedes, his wisecracking, fast-talking Chicana wife, tries playfully to knife him for maligning her to her best friend (whose own little escapades include flings with some generals, a couple of Presidents and a papal nuncio). Harry has described Mercedes as ""wacky,'' ``crazy,'' a ``total space case,''all because she's a riotous drunkard who requires periodic drying-out. Once in Amman, Mercedes, now on the wagon, meets Nabil, a minister in Hussein's cabinet, and it is something else at first sight. As a Chicana, she is an ``exile,'' and as a Palestinian ``refugee'' in Jordan, so is he, a technocrat suspended between the ancient tribal ethos and the modern world. Their protracted affair, on which the narrative focus is fixed, comes finally to naught. By turns the novel is amusing and irritating, shrewd and ingenuous, serious and frivolous to the point of silly slapstick. One must decry some serious lapses in judgment and tact on the part of a talented writer. (December)
Reviewed on: 09/29/1986
Release date: 10/01/1986
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