I AM RADAR / Reif Larsen

Larsen’s latest novel reads like three novels in one (with overarching continuity). The book is organized in five long sections:

(1.) The story of Radar Radmanovic, born in New Jersey 1975. His father Kermin, a radio expert, is quite content, but his mother, Charlene, is distressed that Radar is black while she and Kermin are white. Charlene seeks medical explanation and ultimately the family travels to Norway for a “cure” offered by an eccentric troupe of scientists and performance artists.

(2.) The story of Miroslav Danilovic, born in Visegrad, Bosnia 1972. We enter his life at age three and follow his upbringing with younger brother, Mihajlo. After much family hardship and tragedy, Miro emerges as a techno-puppeteer whose ‘black box’ guerilla theater exhibitions become famous. At the end of the section, Miro has seemingly died—but this book is full of surprises.

(3.) We’re back with Radar; his father has knocked out all electrical/electronic capability in a huge swath of New Jersey. Father disappears and Radar is invited, by the surviving members of the Norwegian troupe, to voyage to Africa and help with a performance there.

(4.) Details the history of life on the de Broglie rubber plantation in Cambodia where Jean-Baptiste and his deaf mother Eugenia take center stage—along with Raksmey Raksmey, an undersized infant found floating (Moses like) in a stream.

(5.) The last section returns us to Radar’s saga and the result of the Africa trip.

 

All this will either draw you toward a complex but carefully laid out story or will send you screaming away.            Don 2/13/2019

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