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Masai Dreaming


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'Cartwright makes his pages as vividly sensuous as they are caustically intelligent' The Sunday Times

About the Author

Justin Cartwright was born in South Africa and educated in America and at Oxford University. His books include LOOK AT IT THIS WAY, INTERIOR, and IN EVERY FACE I MEET, which was shortlisted for the 1995 Booker Prize. His latest novel LEADING THE CHEERS won the Whitbread Novel Award for 1998


In a striking fusion of cultural journeys, Booker Prize finalist Cartwright (Look At It This Way) jump-cuts between past and present, Africa and Europe, the gentle Masai and a French-Jewish family who met a horrifying fate in the Nazi death camps. In the late 1930s,Claudia Cohn-Casson had been a dedicated anthropologist gathering data on Masai customs when an epic lion hunt she staged for filming ended in tragedy. Two Masai warriors lay slain; cameramen gloated over the carnage, snapping ``fantastic'' footage. Months later, this colonial cruelty found a parallel in Nazi barbarism as Claudia was seized in Paris and deported to Auschwitz with her brother and eminent father, a ``collabo'' doctor who thought himself safe. Narrating these events as well as the present-day action is screenwriter Tim Curtiz, touring the heart of Africa to demystify Claudia's life and death in a film intended to re-create many truths (``we are all Jews, all Nazis, all humans capable of anything. The movie must speak to everybody... ''). But Curtiz works for a rich, sybaritic and eccentric producer who considers casting his transvestite mistress as Claudia. Or will he cast Julia Roberts, with Mel Gibson as Claudia's other, Anglo lover? Yesterday and today flow seamlessly into one another as the novel replays events in an ongoing now, like a movie that unreels, dreamlike, before the spellbound spectator. (June)

There is nothing tired or derivative here; the writing is sharp, the characters vividly drawn, the narrative sinuous . . . it confirms Cartwright's individuality and promise . . . In its bold design, as well as its wonderfully detailed portrait of African village life, it achieves real distinction * Sunday Telegraph *
Cartwright makes his pages as vividly sensuous as they are caustically intelligent * The Sunday Times *
It is like a little death to put this book down * Times Literary Supplement *
The book works well, as a story, as a compendium of reflections on race and nationhood and as a novel with a refined and distinctive narrative voice . . . an elegantly complex, unfailingly intelligent novel * Spectator *
Remarkable . . . The prose is spare and exact, yet glorious * Daily Mail *
There is so much to take in along the way, so many essential truths, so much pain and beauty, that Masai Dreaming takes on the compulsive quality of a dream from which one is reluctant to awake. If I were ever asked to select a few books that might help to change the world, Cartwright's would be near the top of the list * Midweek *
A provocative novel * Esquire *

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