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The Red Squad: A Novelby Esther Broner
Synopses & Reviews
E.M. Broner brings us a wonderfully comic and moving novel about the interwoven lives of a group of restless Midwestern grad students in the 1960s. Forty years later, gray-haired and spread around the country, they learn that they were under surveillance during their activist days.
At the center is Anka, a lively professor at an Ohio university, who receives an unsolicited Freedom of Information file charting her younger life as part of an eccentric crew who came together around politics and passion. She’s plunged into suspicion (who sent the file and why?), but also into rollicking memories of her compatriots in the “bullpen” of graduate school back in those days: Kevin, the sweet young priest in the process of formally leaving the church, who was her protector and secret crush; “The Farmer,” the only married man among them; the gay poetnamed Noble and his intimate, Ron, the black professor of Victorian studies; the irrepressible Bernstein,who yearned to start again in thepromised land of Israel. One of them becomes a spy, the other a fugitive.
Filled with the rich details of the personal and political actions that solidified the group for a time and then splintered it into the l970s, the plot is animated byAnka’s longings for love and justice, and by the unfolding mystery of the Bullpenner who went underground. When their long lost comrade resurfaces, his plight brings all the pen-mates and some of their once prized students together at the glorious finale of this picaresque adventure.
Wise, funny, written in quicksilver prose, The Red Squad reminds us how relevant the lessons of the past still are today, and brings us a timeless message of community and hope.
Broner has written a wonderfully comic and moving novel about the interwoven lives of a group of Midwestern grad students who, 40 years after they participated in the political fray of the 1960s, stumble onto the fact that they were under surveillance.
A wonderfully comic novel about the interwoven lives of a group of 1960s grad students who, forty years later, learn that they were under FBI surveillance during their activist days.
There's Anka, who enraged the right-thinking newspaper with her outspoken politics; Kevin, a priest in the process of formally leaving the church; The Farmer,an unhappy father and husband; Noble, the gay poet; Ron, the black professor of Victorian studies; and the irrepressible Bernstein, who yearned to start again in the promised land of Israel. One became a spy, one became afugitive. And when their long lost comrade resurfaces, his plight reunites them in a glorious, unexpected finale that collides past and present.
From the Trade Paperback edition.
About the Author
E. M. BRONER is the author of ten previous books. She has taught at Wayne State University and Sarah Lawrence College, and has been a visiting scholar at Ohio State University, Oberlin College, UCLA, and Haifa University. An award-winning playwright and NPR writer, she has also lectured around the world. She lives in New York City.
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