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The Mirageby Matt Ruff
Synopses & Reviews
11/9/2001: Christian fundamentalists hijack four jetliners. They fly two into the Tigris and Euphrates World Trade Towers in Baghdad, and a third into the Arab Defense Ministry in Riyadh. The fourth plane, believed to be bound for Mecca, is brought down by its passengers.
The United Arab States declares a War on Terror. Arabian and Persian troops invade the Eastern Seaboard and establish a Green Zone in Washington, D.C....
Summer, 2009: Arab Homeland Security agent Mustafa al Baghdadi interrogates a captured suicide bomber. The prisoner claims that the world they are living in is a mirage — in the real world, America is a superpower, and the Arab states are just a collection of "backward third-world countries." A search of the bomber's apartment turns up a copy of the New York Times, dated September 12, 2001, that appears to support his claim. Other captured terrorists have been telling the same story. The president wants answers, but Mustafa soon discovers he's not the only interested party.
The gangster Saddam Hussein is conducting his own investigation. And the head of the Senate Intelligence Committee — a war hero named Osama bin Laden — will stop at nothing to hide the truth. As Mustafa and his colleagues venture deeper into the unsettling world of terrorism, politics, and espionage, they are confronted with questions without any rational answers, and the terrifying possibility that their world is not what it seems.
Acclaimed novelist Matt Ruff has created a shadow world that is eerily recognizable but, at the same time, almost unimaginable. Gripping, subversive, and unexpectedly moving, The Mirage probes our deepest convictions and most arresting fears.
"Genre buster Ruff (Bad Monkeys) takes the reader through the looking glass into a world where a union of benevolent Muslim states (the U.A.S.) guards against Christian fundamentalist terrorists trying to spread fear and unrest. After the terrorist attack of 11-9-2001 on towers in Baghdad, the story proper begins in 2009, as Homeland Security Agent Mustafa al Baghdadi, witness to the original attack, nearly dies confronting a suicide bomber from Texas named James Travis, aka 'the crusader.' The crusader survives the attempt, and his claims that their world is actually a polar opposite distortion of the truth sends Mustafa spinning. Ruff's exposition to establish the situation is impressively simple: clever, inventive entries from 'The Library of Alexandria, A User-Edited Reference Source' are peppered throughout, tweaking Wikipedia and appearing just when readers (or sometimes characters) need them. Among other entries, one finds a long biography of Saddam Hussein, 'philanthropist, novelist... and Iraqi labor organizer'; an explication of the 'Miranda Warning' rights of U.A.S. citizens; and a chronicle of the 40-year reign of Lyndon Johnson, described as the President of the Christian States of America (C.S.A.) who was born in the Evangelical Republic of Texas; his 'Mexican Gulf War' of 1991 pitted Louisiana against an OPEC-backed Texas. Beneath this dubious verisimilitude lies a truth that gives Ruff's work a sharp satiric bite. As to the book itself, it's as traditional in its story as it is unconventional in its premise, with a full cast of characters and narrative arc. As the plot thickens, the ideas keep coming, with Ruff revising the history of, among other things, the gay rights movement, David Koresh, and Timothy McVeigh. This is both entertaining and provocative, exactly what the best popular fiction should be. Agent: The Melanie Jackson Agency." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
"Ruff embraces his twisty concept with an attention to detail that suggests many months, more likely years, of fervent research....He is a world-class world builder who, perhaps better than any other writer, can create exotic, mysterious worlds and communicate their unique rules and consistent logics." The Stranger
"Furious entertainment....It echoes Michael Chabon's The Yiddish Policeman's Union or Steven Barnes's Lion's Blood, but more comparisons will be made to Philip K. Dick's World War II reimagining The Man in the High Castle." The Onion's AV Club
About the Author
Matt Ruff is the author of the novels Fool on the Hill; Sewer, Gas and Electric: The Public Works Trilogy; Set This House in Order; and Bad Monkeys. He lives in Seattle, Washington.
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