Publisher: Perennial (Harper Collins)
About: Terrorists and hostages become one
Style: 3rd person
Where: Unnamed South American country
Somewhere in South America, at the home of the country's vice president, a lavish birthday party is being held in honor of Mr. Hosokawa, a powerful Japanese businessman. Roxanne Coss, opera's most
revered soprano, has mesmerized the international guests with her singing. It is a perfect evening - until a band of gun-wielding terrorists breaks in through the air-conditioning vents and takes the
entire party hostage. But what begins as a panicked, life-threatening scenario slowly evolves into something quite different, as terrorists and hostages forge unexpected bonds and people from
different countries and continents become compatriots.
Why was it only now that he understood that things would end badly? It didn't seem strange that he knew it, but that he hadn't known it from the very start.
Patchett takes her time getting there, but by the climax of her story, you find yourself hoping that the idyll will -- somehow, magically -- last. Of course, it can't. The fact that it lasts as
long as it does, in such improbable circumstances, is a testament to her own magical powers.
Daniel Mendelsohn New York Magazine June 18th 2001
Not so good:
The novel stumbles on an imbalance of perspective. We never really come to know the depth of desperation that has driven the captors to this reckless act, and we never get a sense of the political
climate that would allow a hostage situation to drag on for months. Patchett is so focused on the small human details that she tends to brainwash the reader, as she has her captives, that life has
ceased to exist outside the walls of the cozy prison.
Betsy Kline Pittsburgh Post-Gazette 29th July 2001
About the author
Patchett attended Sarah Lawrence College, where she took writing classes with Alan Gurganus, Russell Banks, and Grace Paley. While an undergraduate, she sold her first story to the Paris Review.
Patchett then went on to attend the University of Iowa Writer's Workshop, and in 1990, she won a residential fellowship at the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, Massachusetts. Here she wrote her
first novel, The Patron Saint of Liars, which was awarded a James A. Michner/Copernicus Award for a book in progress.