Knopf, Hardcover, 9780375411670, 464pp.
Publication Date: October 6, 2009
From the acclaimed author of Acts of Faith (“A miracle . . . You can hardly conceive of a more affecting reading experience”—Houston Chronicle), a blistering new novel about the brutality and beauty of life on the Arizona-Mexico border and about the unyielding power of the past to shape our lives. Taking us from the turn of the twentieth century to our present day, from the impoverished streets of rural Mexico to the manicured lawns of suburban Connecticut, from the hot and dusty air of an isolated ranch to New York City in the wake of 9/11, Caputo gives us an impeccably crafted story about three generations of an Arizona family forced to confront the violence and loss that have become its inheritance.
When Gil Castle loses his wife in the Twin Tower attacks, he retreats to his family’s sprawling homestead in a remote corner of the Southwest. Consumed by grief, he has to find a way to live with his loss in this strange, forsaken part of the country, where drug lords have more power than police and violence is a constant presence. But it is also a world of vast open spaces, where Castle begins to rebuild his belief in the potential for happiness—until he starts to uncover the dark truths about his fearsome grandfather, a legacy that has been tightly shrouded in mystery in the years since the old man’s death.
When Miguel Espinoza shows up at the ranch, terrified after two friends were murdered in a border-crossing drug deal gone bad, Castle agrees to take him in. Yet his act of generosity sets off a flood of violence and vengeance, a fierce reminder of the fact that while he may be able to reinvent himself, he may never escape his history.
Searingly dramatic, bold and timely, Crossers is Philip Caputo’s most ambitious and brilliantly realized novel yet.
“The enormous malevolence of Sept. 11, 2001, still squats upon the imagination, resisting our efforts to comprehend it. Writers as various as Jay McInerney (The Good Life), Jonathan Safran Foer (Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close), John Updike (Terrorist) and Andre Dubus III (The Garden of Last Days) have tried working the events of 9/11 into their novels, but most of these ambitious books were doomed to at least partial failure because our memories of the actual events retain an emotional immediacy that even the most skillfully crafted fiction can't approximate. But Philip Caputo’s Crossers succeeds, in part because it’s about a man who recognizes that the imagination is inadequate to comprehend evil. For Gil Castle, Caputo’s protagonist, the enormity of 9/11 is ‘beyond grasp - an insane act perpetrated by sane minds.’”
—San Francisco Chronicle
“An ambitious, wonderful novel that illuminates the modern U.S.-Mexican border and its evolution during the 20th century.”
“A memorable, ambitious novel about a man haunted by his past and seeking to escape along the Arizona-Mexico border… [with] a conclusion that will change everyone.”
“At once a color-filled action tale; a generational saga with a moral; a touching love story; and a bold lesson in history and its inevitabilities.”
“Readers of Caputo’s Acts of Faith will be hoping for the same measured, masterly storytelling, informed by sociopolitical concerns, and they won’t be disappointed. Highly recommended.”
—Library Journal (Starred Review)
“Philip Caputo, who won a Pulitzer Prize for reportage, and wrote the seminal Vietnam memoir, A Rumor of War, has long focused his fiction on the moral ambiguities that have accompanied violent conflicts around the world—Vietnam, the Sudan, Iraq. With Crossers, he brings the war home, powerfully evoking an America marked by complexities, contradictions and an uncomfortable relationship with its own past.”
“A masterful tale about what comes of ‘trying to escape history’—from which, the author gives us to understand, there is no safe place to hide.”
“Gorgeously stark…. Caputo’s west supersedes elemental cowboys and lone justice with the malaise of post-9/11 America and the violence of the Mexican desert—as gruesome as in Iraq—frothing with moral ambiguity and fraught with complicity.”
— Publisher’s Weekly (Starred)