Simon & Schuster, Paperback, 9780684870366, 336pp.
Publication Date: September 19, 2000
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Short-listed for the Whitbread Novel Award, "The Catastrophist" is a haunting novel set in the politically charged landscape of the Belgian Congo just before independence. At its heart is the passion between novelist James Gillespie and the fiery idealistic journalist Ines, whom he follows to Africa as their affair begins to fray. They are as unlike as lovers can be; he is willfully apolitical and desperate for her love, while she is obsessed with the unfolding drama, caught up in history, hero-worship, and soon, a new passion. In a country that will self-destruct upon giving birth to itself, Gillespie is plunged into violence and betrayal, and moved by love to a final act of nobility. In his ravishing U.S. debut, Ronan Bennett delivers heart-stopping suspense, profound moral questioning, and a searing depiction of a doomed love.