cover image Exiles in America

Exiles in America

Christopher Bram, . . Morrow, $24.95 (384pp) ISBN 978-0-06-113834-8

Bram uneasily weds religion and the politics of sexual orientation in his tepid eighth novel. Daniel Wexler, 47, and Zachary Knowles, 48, together for 21 years, live in Williamsburg, Va., where Daniel teaches painting at William and Mary College and Zack maintains a psychiatry practice. The other, more literal, exiles are Abbas and Elena Rohani. A painter, Abbas is a visiting faculty member at the college and embodies the swarthy, omnisexual, selfish and impossibly handsome artist stereotype. Daniel's initial artistic jealousy of Abbas turns into an attraction that, thanks to the convenient open status of everyone's relationships, barrels toward consummation. The affair becomes more intense than intended, precipitating pages of fights between Daniel and Zack. It also crystallizes the unlikely alliance between Zack and Elena. After the affair founders, the FBI begins investigating Abbas's relationship with his brother, sparking even more emotional turmoil, but the novel falls short of its dramatic potential. (Sept.)