Friday, February 23, 2007


Just finished John Le Carre's "The Mission Song," a fast-paced, over-too-soon 340 pages about a man of mixed race (Irish Catholic missionary priest father and Congolese village woman mother), Bruno Salvador, in high demand for his skills as specialist in several of Congo's dozens of languages. Amongst Salvo's clients is an unnamed branch of the British Secret Service who calls on him from time to time to lend his unique skill set to central African problem-solving discussions. By the time he interprets too much at a secret meeting on an unnamed North Atlantic island between Congolese factions, his identity as an African is already eclipsing the loyal British subject he'd convinced himself he'd become.

"The Mission Song" is a fantastic story of awakening to developed/developing world inequities, and interestingly a book that received mixed reviews. Some feel Le Carre's greatest work ended with the Cold War, that his eye is not as sharp as it once was. I was drawn to Le Carre first with "The Constant Gardener," and though I've since checked out the classic "Smiley's People" and "Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy," I must admit I'm actually more into his most recent work - probably because his Africa researchers are good and thorough. All I can say is if a movie is made of "The Mission Song," I hope "The Constant Gardener" director Fernando Meirelles is behind the camera!

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