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Other titles in the P.S. series:
Right of Thirst (P.S.)by Frank Huyler
Synopses & Reviews
Shattered by his wife's death, and by his own role in it, successful cardiologist Charles Anderson volunteers to assist with earthquake relief in an impoverished Islamic country in a constant state of conflict with its neighbor. But when the refugees he's come to help do not appear and artillery begins to fall in the distance along the border, the story takes an unexpected turn.
This haunting, resonant tour de force about one man's desire to live a moral life offers a moving exploration of the tensions between poverty and wealth, the ethics of intervention, the deep cultural differences that divide the world, and the essential human similarities that unite it.
"Doctor-author Huyler offers in his first novel (after story collection The Laws of Invisible Things) a clear-eyed if occasionally overwrought exploration of grief and redemption in a refugee camp set in an unnamed mountainous Islamic country. After witnessing his wife's slow death, cardiologist Charles Anderson volunteers to be the doctor at a remote refugee camp set up in the aftermath of an earthquake. He is joined by Elise, a German geneticist studying the DNA of a mountain tribe, and Sanjit Rai, a local military officer assigned to protect the camp. As the days pass and the refugees fail to appear, Anderson questions the motivations of those who put him there and his own reasons for fleeing into the mountains, including his decision to not face his devastated son. Anderson's desire to heal becomes twisted up with the clash between east and west, rich and poor, as well as with regional conflict. The prose is sturdy and evocative in this perhaps too sincere and sentimental exploration of what limited power any given individual has to change the world." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Emergency physician Huyler (The Laws of Invisible Things, 2004, etc.) again makes good use of his medical background in his second novel, about a doctor seeking redemption in a devastated mountain region.
After his wife Rachel dies, Charles Anderson feels adrift. His work as a cardiologist no longer consumes him, and son Eric has been estranged by Charles' failure to summon him home in time to say goodbye to his mother. On impulse, the dispirited doctor attends a lecture by aid worker Scott Coles, who describes his organization's relief efforts in an unnamed country (similar to Pakistan) ravaged by a recent earthquake and in constant border conflicts with its neighbor. Charles volunteers, believing that humanitarian work might save him. This is the jumping-off point for a vivid and compassionate narrative whose alien setting and complex protagonist bring new richness to Huyler's writing. At his volunteer post, Charles finds himself in the company of Captain Rai, a brusque military adviser, and Elise, a considerate nurse and researcher. The seven-year-old whose leg he reluctantly amputates, and an unanticipated liaison with Elise, are the unlikely purveyors of hope to the flailing protagonist. But the purpose of his journey escapes him as artillery fire arrives in lieu of refugees.
"I'd come all this way for an empty tent city and a one-legged girl. A wind-scoured field of stones on the other side of the earth...My plunge into the unknown, my step into this other world, where I hoped to lose myself in an abundance of need — and so few of my hopes had come true."
Deepened by Huyler's knowledgeable depiction of improvisational medicine and his gift for poetic narration, this is a resonant tale that eschews easy resolution. A timely, disquieting reflection on mortality, war and the startling dichotomy between the affluent West and the impoverished Third World." Kirkus
"Right of Thirst is a dark, compelling story about moral ambition and its pitfalls — a necessary book for this moment in America’s imperial history, and a lyrical, moving, gripping work of literature. Huyler writes with a clarion voice, a great sense of purpose, and a surprisingly gentle kindness about characters who are utterly real and also powerfully archetypal." Andrew Solomon, author of the National Book Award-winning The Noonday Demon
"Right of Thirst is a book to treasure.... [A] riveting tale of our time, at once haunting and inspiring, provocative and insightful. It will stay with me for a long time." Tom Brokaw
"Brilliant, start to finish....It's clear and deep and wise, and very few contemporary novels can make that claim." Stewart O'Nan, author of Songs for the Missing, on Right of Thirst
"Right of Thirst is one of the finest novels I've read in years....[Huyler] puts his characters to physical and moral tests that challenge their fundamental notions of love, loyalty, justice, and self....[A] timely, powerful exploration into the uses and limits of benevolence..." Ben Fountain, author of Brief Encounters with Che Guevara
About the Author
An emergency physician in Albuquerque, New Mexico, Frank Huyler is the author of the essay collection The Blood of Strangers as well as the novel The Laws of Invisible Things. He grew up in Iran, Brazil, and Japan.
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