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Correspondents
Cover of Correspondents
Correspondents
A Novel
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The world is Rita Khoury's oyster. The bright and driven daughter of a Boston-area Irish-Arab family that has risen over the generations from poor immigrants to part of the coastal elite, Rita grows up in a 1980s cultural mishmash. Corned beef and cabbage sit on the dinner table alongside stuffed grape leaves and tabouleh, all cooked by Rita's mother, an Irish nurse who met her Lebanese surgeon husband while working at a hospital together. The unconventional yet close-knit family bonds over summers at the beach, wedding line dances, and a shared obsession with the Red Sox.

Rita charts herself an ambitious path through Harvard to one of the best newspapers in the country. She is posted in cosmopolitan Beirut and dates a handsome Palestinian would-be activist. But when she is assigned to cover the America-led invasion of Baghdad in 2003, she finds herself unprepared for the war zone. Her lifeline is her interpreter and fixer Nabil al-Jumaili, an equally restless young man whose dreams have been restricted by life in a deteriorating dictatorship, not to mention his own seemingly impossible desires. As the war tears Iraq apart, personal betrayal and the horrors of conflict force Rita and Nabil out of the country and into twisting, uncertain fates. What lies in wait will upend their lives forever, shattering their own notions of what they are entitled to in a grossly unjust world.

Epic in scope, by turns satirical and heartbreaking, and speaking sharply to America's current moment, Correspondents is a whirlwind story about displacement from one's own roots, the violence America promotes both abroad and at home, and the resilience that allows families to remake themselves and endure even the most shocking upheavals.

The world is Rita Khoury's oyster. The bright and driven daughter of a Boston-area Irish-Arab family that has risen over the generations from poor immigrants to part of the coastal elite, Rita grows up in a 1980s cultural mishmash. Corned beef and cabbage sit on the dinner table alongside stuffed grape leaves and tabouleh, all cooked by Rita's mother, an Irish nurse who met her Lebanese surgeon husband while working at a hospital together. The unconventional yet close-knit family bonds over summers at the beach, wedding line dances, and a shared obsession with the Red Sox.

Rita charts herself an ambitious path through Harvard to one of the best newspapers in the country. She is posted in cosmopolitan Beirut and dates a handsome Palestinian would-be activist. But when she is assigned to cover the America-led invasion of Baghdad in 2003, she finds herself unprepared for the war zone. Her lifeline is her interpreter and fixer Nabil al-Jumaili, an equally restless young man whose dreams have been restricted by life in a deteriorating dictatorship, not to mention his own seemingly impossible desires. As the war tears Iraq apart, personal betrayal and the horrors of conflict force Rita and Nabil out of the country and into twisting, uncertain fates. What lies in wait will upend their lives forever, shattering their own notions of what they are entitled to in a grossly unjust world.

Epic in scope, by turns satirical and heartbreaking, and speaking sharply to America's current moment, Correspondents is a whirlwind story about displacement from one's own roots, the violence America promotes both abroad and at home, and the resilience that allows families to remake themselves and endure even the most shocking upheavals.

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About the Author-
  • Tim Murphy is the author of Christodora, longlisted for the Andrew Carnegie Medal. He has reported on health, politics, and culture for twenty years, for such publications as POZ Magazine, where he was an editor and staff writer, Out, the New York Times, and New York. He lives in Brooklyn.

Reviews-
  • Publisher's Weekly

    April 8, 2019
    In this ambitious but schematically plotted novel, Murphy (Christodora) refracts the American experience through the lives of an extended Lebanese-American family from 1912 to the early 21st century. The main character, Rita Khoury, is the daughter of Irish and Lebanese parents. Rita is working as a journalist in Beirut when, in the aftermath of 9/11, she is sent to cover the war in Iraq, and her relationships—with Palestinian and Jewish boyfriends and an Iraqi interpreter—and postings in the Middle East and (later) Washington are drawn to encompass the social and political issues that shaped America and the rest of the world around the turn of the 21st century. Rita is well-developed as a character, but as her and her family and friends’ lives progress through decades punctuated by those issues—including war, gay coming-of-age, racism, and domestic gun violence—they seem less to be participants in history than hostages to it. Murphy’s authorial voice also frequently intrudes in the narrative, as when he uses Arabic words for foods and then immediately explains them in English. The resulting story comes across as more instructive than immersive.

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    Blackstone Publishing
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Correspondents
A Novel
Tim Murphy
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