The Perfect Man
By Naeem Murr
(Random House Trade, Paperback, 9780812977011, 451pp.)
Publication Date: April 17, 2007
List Price: $15.00*
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Winner of the Commonwealth Writers' Prize for Europe and South Asia.
Winner of the 2008 PEN Beyond Margins Award.
Identity, friendship, and a long-hidden crime lie at the heart of Naeem Murr’s captivating novel about five friends growing up in a small 1950s Missouri river town. A contender for the Man Booker Prize, this exhilarating story beautifully evokes the extreme joys, as well as the dark and shameful desires, of childhood.
Young Rajiv Travers hasn’t had much luck fitting in anywhere. Born to an Indian mother who was sold to his English father for £20, Raj is abandoned by his relatives into the reluctant care of Ruth, an American romance writer living in Pisgah, Missouri. While his skin color unsettles most of the townsfolk, who are used to seeing things in black and white, the quick-witted Raj soon finds his place among a group of children his own age.
While the friends remain loyal to one another through the years, it becomes clear that their paths will veer in markedly different directions. But breaking free of the demands of their families and their community, as well as one another, comes at a devastating price: As the chilling secrets of Pisgah’s residents surface, the madness that erupts will cost Raj his closest friend even as it offers him the life he always dreamed of.
Taking us into the intimate life of small-town America, The Perfect Man explores both the power of the secrets that shape us and the capacity of love in all its guises to heal even the most damaged of souls.
“Naeem Murr's The Perfect Man is astonishing in its depth and insight. In prose that is both spare and excruciatingly vivid, Murr's warts-and-all portrayal of humanity haunts you long after you've turned the last page.” — Sara Gruen, author of Water for Elephants
“Naeem Murr vividly evokes the passionate world of childhood and adolesence as he tells the compelling story of Rajiv Travers, the ultimate outsider, and his unlikely group of supporters in a small town in Missouri. The Perfect Man is a beautiful and fiercely readable novel.” — Margot Livesey, author of Banishing Verona
“This nuanced, spellbinding novel is one of the most captivating I’ve ever read. From the lucid, breathtaking prose to the wicked humor, from the author’s deep and rare compassion to the ensemble cast of beautifully rendered, beautifully conflicted characters, the book explores not merely what it means to be young or innocent, not what it means to be an immigrant or American, but what it means to be human. Naeem Murr’s novel is a dark and gorgeous revelation.” --Bret Anthony Johnston, author of Corpus Christi: Stories
“[The Perfect Man] succeeds in re-creating an entire world with a full spectrum of human emotions in a small Missouri town, as Faulkner did in the imaginary Yoknapatawpha County in Mississippi.”
–The Times Literary Supplement (London)
“In Pisgah, [Murr] has created a fully fledged, self-contained world, with a vast array of characters, each quixotic and authentically flawed. . . . The Perfect Man succeeds because it’s so impeccably well written.”
–Lionel Shriver, Financial Times, author of We Need to Talk About Kevin