Paul Eggers Saviors

ISBN 13: 9780151003518

Saviors

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In a tale that combines the clash of cultures, the lure of the exotic, and the brutal reality of a refugee’s life into a memorable human comedy, we come to understand what it means to be an american. The saviors of this witty novel set in a Vietnamese refugee camp are a pair of americans who find themselves fomenting rebellion. “Eggers is a first novelist of rare taste and intelligence as well as rare experience” (Jane Smiley).

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About the Author:

Fiction writer PAUL EGGERS holds a BA from the University of Washington, an MA from Penn State, and is a PhD candidate at the University of Nebraska ― Lincoln. His work has appeared in Sonora Review, The Quarterly, The Washington Post, and elsewhere. Besides writing fiction, Eggers writes interviews, profiles, and political analyses for Inside Chess. He has also published poetry. He is the author of the n novel Saviors (Harcourt Brace) and How Water Feels (Southern Methodist UP). He served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Malaysia (1976-78) and an Education Advisor for the United Nations High Commission for Refugees in Malaysia and the Phillipines. In 1997 he won the Merit Award from the Nebraska Arts Council's Individual Artists Fellowships program.

From Publishers Weekly:

Set during the Vietnamese "Boat People" crisis of 1979, Eggers's provocative but problematic first novel bristles with outrage about the suffering of those unfortunage outcasts, which is augmented by the official ineptitude and chicanery of those in charge of their fate. Having lost favor with his UN bosses, outspoken Reuben Gill finds himself stuck in the branch office at Kuala Trengganu in Malaysia. Reuben is desperate to get away from his desk job and earn a posting to Bidong, an island encampment off the coast. It's difficult for the reader to warm to Reuben, however. Apart from his knowledge of Malaysia and his supposedly funny penchant for the cliche "can't tell shit from shinola," this sweating, irascible, six-foot-three hero has few admirable qualities. After he meets his love interest, the excruciatingly named Chicago English teacher Bobbi Porkpie Sortini, Rueben finally makes it to Bidong, where Eggers's descriptions of life in the refugee camp are sharp indeed. Few readers will forget Bidong's Sikh administrator, Gurmit Singh, who sets off petty bickering among the Western refugee officials by confiscating a plank from the mess hall table, claiming that it was intended for the coffin of a dead refugee. But this strong material is soon overshadowed by the behavior of the American characters. Porkpie is given to fey exclamations worthy of a boarding-school Ophelia. Reuben tortures a spider monkey, supposedly to give the Vietnamese?who have suffered rape, pillage and murder at the hands of pirates?some dramatic catharsis. Eggers, who worked with UN relief during the period his book describes, does capture the squalor and desperation of a refugee camp. One feels that he could have written a wonderful memoir of his harrowing experiences in the camps: readers of Saviors may wish he had.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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