THE FOUNTAIN AT THE CENTER OF THE WORLD

Robert Newman, Author . Soft Skull $14.95 (339p) ISBN 978-1-932360-11-0

In this intense but flawed global drama, a British PR flack tries to find his long-lost brother after being diagnosed with a fatal form of leukemia. Evan Hatch works long hours running interference for a firm that specializes in complex governmental trade issues, but his sudden cancer diagnosis forces him to track down his brother, Chano, to orchestrate a bone marrow transplant. The search is complicated by his brother's work as a political activist in northern Mexico, where Chano is on the run for bombing a sluicing plant that was poisoning the local groundwater supply. The family angle turns into a triangle when Chano's teenage son, Daniel, who was put up for adoption, travels to Mexico from Costa Rica to try to locate his father. A complex, extended game of hunt-and-chase then ensues, with Chano and Daniel fleeing the various authorities who want to arrest and deport them, respectively. Meanwhile, Evan learns that he has been misdiagnosed, and that he is in the last, deadly stage of a rare tropical blood disease called Chagas' disease that he contracted as an infant. The climax takes place in Seattle against the backdrop of the riots that shut down the World Trade Organization meetings several years ago, where the paths of Chano, Daniel and Evan finally converge. Newman's extensive political research adds depth and breadth, but it also clutters the book with so much factual detail that the protagonists are thrust aside, and the problem is compounded by the introduction of far too many ancillary characters. With a bit more clarity, this might have been a superb novel, but instead it is a compromised testimonial to Newman's formidable range, intelligence and talent. 15-city author tour. (Jan.)

Reviewed on: 12/01/2003
Release date: 01/01/2004
Genre: Fiction
Paperback - 320 pages - 978-1-85984-573-8
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