Mao II: A Novel

Mao II: A Novel

Paperback

By (author) Don DeLillo

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  • Publisher: Penguin Putnam Inc
  • Format: Paperback | 256 pages
  • Dimensions: 127mm x 196mm x 18mm | 227g
  • Publication date: 1 November 1992
  • Publication City/Country: New York, NY
  • ISBN 10: 0140152741
  • ISBN 13: 9780140152746
  • Edition: New edition
  • Edition statement: New edition
  • Sales rank: 134,135

Product description

"One of the most intelligent, grimly funny voices to comment on life in present-day America" (The New York Times), Don DeLillo presents an extraordinary new novel about words and images, novelists and terrorists, the mass mind and the arch-individualist. At the heart of the book is Bill Gray, a famous reclusive writer who escapes the failed novel he has been working on for many years and enters the world of political violence, a nightscape of Semtex explosives and hostages locked in basement rooms. Bill's dangerous passage leaves two people stranded: his brilliant, fixated assistant, Scott, and the strange young woman who is Scott's lover--and Bill's.

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Author information

Don DeLillo published his first short story when he was twenty-three years old. He has since written twelve novels, including White Noise (1985) which won the National Book Award. It was followed by Libra (1988), his novel about the assassination of President Kennedy, and by Mao II, which won the PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction. In 1997, he published the bestselling Underworld, and in 1999 he was awarded the Jerusalem Prize, given to a writer whose work expresses the theme of the freedom of the individual in society; he was the first American author to receive it. He is also a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters.

Review quote

"This novel's a beauty. A vision as bold and a voice as eloquent and morally focused as any in American writing" --Thomas Pynchon The writing is dazzling; the images, so radioactive that they glow afterward in our minds." --Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times

Editorial reviews

With a formidable body of work behind him, DeLillo has earned the reflexive musings of this heady portrait of an obsessed and reclusive writer - a novelist haunted by the corruptions of an image-dominated world, and hunted by those who deny him the eloquence of silence. Two early books have brought Bill Gray both Salinger-like acclaim and enough royalties to live as obscurely as Pynchon, which he does in upstate New York, with a younger assistant named Scott, an alter-ego who attends to all his worldly needs, and maintains the massive Gray archive, including the much rewritten work-in-progress. Unsure whether to publish again, Gray derides to give the world an image instead and poses for a Swedish photographer named Brita, whom Scott escorts to Gray's hideaway with all the caution of visiting an elusive terrorist. And that's the point. Gray has retreated into silence as a way of creating "force" and "myth," but only the terrorist has the real power these days, the ability to shape and influence events, "to make raids on the human consciousness." When the news satisfies our need for narrative, the terrorist becomes the most important player, and the artist has one other choice besides retreat: He can, like Warhol, feed our addiction to imagery. Or so Gray contends. But events conspire to draw him into the real world of terror when a planned public reading in London - in support of a hostage in Lebanon - unravels into a murkier plot, propelled by Gray himself. With a deadly liver ailment, he sets off for Beirut, the "millennial image mill." But instead of affecting history in some small way, he manages to disappear in an image of total anonymity. Back home, Scott maintains the status quo with the help of his spacey girlfriend Karen, a former Moonie who understands that messianism is the key to survival, that the crowd is the engendering trope of our time. DeLillo's edgy characters speak "the uninventable poetry, inside the pain, of what people say"; his talking heads murmur the mysteries of our age. For all its "cool gloom," his latest novel stands in denial of Gray's doom-drenched semiotics: it's a luminous book, full of anger deflected into irony, with moments of hard-earned transcendence. (Kirkus Reviews)