Spanning the breadth of the twentieth century and into the post-9/11 wars and their legacy, Correspondents is a powerful novel that centres on Rita Khoury, an Irish-Lebanese woman whose life and family history mirrors the story of modern America. Both sides of Rita’s family came to the United States in the golden years of immigration, and in her home north of Boston Rita grows into a stubborn, perfectionist, and relentlessly bright young woman. She studies Arabic at university and moves to cosmopolitan Beirut to work as a journalist, and is then posted to Iraq after the American invasion in 2003.
In Baghdad, Rita finds for the first time in her life that her safety depends on someone else, her talented interpreter Nabil al-Jumaili, an equally driven young man from a middle-class Baghdad family who is hiding a secret about his sexuality. As Nabil’s identity threatens to put him in jeopardy and Rita’s position becomes more precarious as the war intensifies, their worlds start to unravel, forcing them out of the country and into an uncertain future.
Correspondents by Tim Murphy is a powerful story about the legacy of immigration, the present-day world of refugeehood, the violence that America causes both abroad and at home, and the power of the individual and the family to bring good into a world that is often brutal.
In the media
Murphy artfully connects multiple narratives to produce a sprawling tale of love, family, duty, war, and displacement. It is above all a stinging indictment of the ill-fated war in Iraq and the heavy tolls it continues to exact on its people.
Captivating . . . Correspondents is an expansive, multigenerational epic, rich in empathy and insight.
Its precision, depth and empathy are all from someone who has created a powerful voice in many respects because of his sexuality . . . He’s not just a gay writer. He’s a super gay writer . . . [An] emotionally resonant, time-hopping page turner . . . driven by a gripping plot.
Correspondents is the novel I’ve been hoping would emerge for a long time. Some might classify it as an American epic, or an epic of the 9/11-Wars, or even a Middle Eastern epic; however, like all great art it asserts our shared humanity across categorizations. So, ultimately, the story of Rita and Nabil transcends categorization itself to become a human epic, one you won’t soon forget.