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The Backpacker's Father


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For fans of Graham Greene #39;s The Quiet American and Alex Garland #39;s The Beach A gripping story of Europeans caught up in ethnic and religious violence off the backpacker trail

About the Author

Gunnar Kopperud was born in Norway in 1946 and studied theatre in Strasbourg and London, later taking a Master's degree in philosophy at the University of Oslo. He has worked as a journalist for, among others, Associated Press and the leading Norwegian daily paper, Dagbladet. He is the author of The Time of Light and Longing. He lives in Norway. Christopher Jamieson is the translator of Longing.


Kopperud (The Time of Light), a seasoned Norwegian war-correspondent/novelist who has also studied philosophy, examines the troubled ethnic and religious differences that have recently plagued Indonesia. The result is a bleak and chilling tale of troubled alliances and casual brutality. The plot is straightforward. Francisco is looking for his daughter, last seen while backpacking in the Spice Islands. With two Scandinavian journalists, he is shipwrecked on the island where Christian and Muslim militias are destroying each other and villagers live with daily expectations of death. Francisco's acquaintance with Indonesia's president makes him a pawn in a game between the Christian police chief and the Muslim army colonel. At the same time, the journalists, making a film about a village that was flooded by a reservoir, cynically begin to twist their story to greater effect. A powerful examination of the West's inability to understand what motivates age-old conflicts and a demonstration of how dangerous well-meaning but ignorant intervention can be, this stark novel could be taking place in Lombok, Aceh, or East Timor. For all literary collections.-Andrea Kempf, Johnson Cty. Community Coll. Lib., Overland Park, KS Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.

'It's well worth writing home about' Daily Telegraph 'A gripping culture-clash novel' Guardian 'A serious novel of religious and national ideas ... Kopperud's unique fusion of imaginative freedom with a forensic eye for cultural differences allows him to lead us round the backstreets of a revolution, conveying with a terrible clarity the sights, smells and sounds of conflict' Daily Telegraph 'Believable, convincing and engaging ... Perhaps the most valuable of the book's pleasures is to be found in the cultural insights with which it is peppered' Guardian

At the start of this dour meditation on loss and culture clash by Norwegian author Kopperud (The Time of Light), a European man named Francesco is searching for his missing daughter, Anya, in the Spice Islands when his ferry sinks. He and two documentary film makers, Helen and Kurt, have to swim ashore. Arrested by the local police, Francesco gains his freedom only by showing a photograph of himself standing with the island's leader. Political turmoil on the island involving conflict between Christians and Muslims threatens Helen and Kurt's attempts to make their TV documentary. The resolution to Francesco's search for Anya is sad in an unexpected way, while Francesco's fate, given his initial trump card of the photo with the island's leader, is perhaps too banal. Through luminous, honest prose, this depressing novel explores the hopelessness of the individual's fate in the wider world. (Aug.) Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.

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