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A scalpel-sharp political satire from the Orange Prize-winning writer of We Need to Talk about Kevin.
Fat and ostracized as a kid, Edgar Kellogg has always yearned to be popular. Bored rigid by his pedestrian life as a solicitor, Edgar decides to risk everything on trying to make it as a journalist. When he’s offered the post of foreign correspondent in Barba - a Portuguese backwater that has sprouted a home-grown terrorist movement - Edgar leaps at the chance to replace some pretentious blowhard called "Barrington Saddler" who’s disappeared.
But the more Edgar learns about his posting, and his larger-than-life predecessor, the more he realizes that it’s not Barban terrorism he’s covering; it’s Barrington Saddler. Edgar recognizes Saddler as exactly the outsize character he longs to emulate. Infuriatingly, all his fellow journalists cannot stop talking about the beloved "Bear", who is no longer lighting up their work lives. Yet all is not as it appears.
Os Soldados Ousados de Barba ("The Daring Soldiers of Barba") has been blowing up the rest of the world for years. So why, with Barrington vanished, do terrorist incidents claimed by the “SOB” suddenly dry up? As Edgar begins to investigate, he doesn’t uncover a conspiracy. To the contrary, the more he digs, the less there is to find....
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It's impossible for me not to compare this to the other three Lionel Shriver books I've read this year - they are the reason I returned to purchase this book, however The New Republic does not stand up next to "We Need to Talk About Kevin" or "So Much for That".
The story is dull and Shriver's usually strong narrative voice doesn't come through at all. And without spoiling the end, the ending really makes little sense. I had hoped Shriver would use Barrington Saddler's presence to introduce a twist as she did with her characters in "Big Brother". No twist and no logic to the end of this story.
The New Republic needs to stand on it's own merit & not on the reputation the author has from her later works. Shriver is an excellent writer, but this book is not excellent. It's not even good. It has no redeeming qualities beyond an interesting idea.
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