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The Mirage (Paperback)

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Staff Reviews


This is one of those times when I’m going to ask you to trust me. Seriously, trust me.

Anyone who has read anything by Matt Ruff knows he can really write, and he can take an ordinary thought and twist it in truly unexpected ways. He’s out-done himself this time, and the result is remarkable and amazing, and a bit disconcerting.

In The Mirage (signing Feb. 16th at noon), Ruff has taken our version of what happened on 9/11 and turned it on its ear. On November 9th – 11/9 – two planes piloted by Christian terrorists flew into the Tigris and Euphrates World Trade Towers in downtown Baghdad, a third one flew into the defense ministry in Riyadh and the fourth plane, bound for Mecca, was brought down by its passengers.

Now, nine years later, Arab Homeland Security agent Mustafa al Baghdadi captures a suicide bomber, who claims that the reality Mustafa is living is simply a mirage, that America is really the superpower instead of the United Arab States, and he has physical proof: a copy of the New York Times dated September 12th, 2001. Mustafa’s search for the truth will pit him against the gangster, Saddam Hussein, and the head of the Senate Intelligence Committee, a war hero named Osama bin Laden.

I’ve read a fair number of alternate reality books, but I hadn’t realized how ingrained and personal 9/11 was until I started reading The Mirage. At first I found it disturbing even though I know it’s fiction. It just seemed. . .wrong, somehow.

And yet. . .it’s not. Once I wrapped my head around this disconnect and let Matt Ruff’s writing take me away, this is an absolutely brilliant book. His sense of humor, his twist on popular culture (people reference the user-edited information source “The Library at Alexandria” as opposed to Wikipedia, and there are entries from The Library throughout the book) and his characters all make The Mirage an amazing and wonderful book. The ending is satisfying in a lot of different ways, and the people he has incorporated, not only Hussein and bin Laden but David Koresh and Timothy McVeigh among others you’ll recognize, are brilliantly portrayed, true to their real-life counterparts in many ways but oddly unique.

I was up late at night finishing The Mirage, and I suspect you will be too. It is, perhaps, an uncomfortable premise, but this is where I ask you to trust me. It’s a brilliant book, possibly the best of 2012, and in January, that’s saying quite a bit.

— FRAN

February 2012 Indie Next List


“Here's another page-turning, mind-reeling masterpiece by Ruff. Imagine a world where the United Arab States is threatened by Christian fundamentalist terrorists, a world where a few good Homeland Security Agents have to fight corruption and conspiracies to protect all they believe in. I predict this is the novel that everyone will be talking about in 2012. And it's not just provocative, it's a darn good read!”
— Tegan Tigani, Queen Anne Books, Seattle, WA

Description


11/9/2001: Christian fundamentalists hijackfour jetliners. They fly two into theTigris & Euphrates World Trade Towersin Baghdad, and a third into the ArabDefense Ministry in Riyadh. The fourthplane, believed to be bound for Mecca, isbrought down by its passengers. The UnitedArab States declares a War on Terror. Arabianand Persian troops invade the EasternSeaboard and establish a Green Zone inWashington, D.C. . . .

Summer, 2009: Arab Homeland Securityagent Mustafa al Baghdadi interrogatesa captured suicide bomber. The prisonerclaims that the world they are living in isa mirage--in the real world, America is asuperpower, and the Arab states are just acollection of "backward third-world countries."Other captured terrorists have beentelling the same story.

The gangster Saddam Hussein is conductinghis own investigation. And the headof the Senate Intelligence Committee--awar hero named Osama bin Laden--willstop at nothing to hide the truth. As Mustafaand his colleagues venture deeper into theunsettling world of terrorism, politics, andespionage, they are confronted with questionswithout any rational answers, andthe terrifying possibility that their world isnot what it seems.

Praise For…


“A unique and compelling read.”
-The Associated Press

“Like Philip Roth’s The Plot Against America, the premise behind Ruff’s alternate-history novel is chilling.”
-The New York Post

“An unnerving but intriguing premise forms the backbone of Matt Ruff’s latest novel, The Mirage, one of the most daring 9/11-inspired novels to emerge after that horrific day
-The Seattle Times

“Ruff embraces his twisty concept with an attention to detail that suggests many months, more likely years, of fervent research. . . . He is a world-class world builder who, perhaps better than any other writer, can create exotic, mysterious worlds and communicate their unique rules and consistent logics.”
-The Stranger

“A funhouse-mirror mash-up where H.G. Wells and Graham Greene collide with The Arabian Nights and The Matrix. . . . Ruff dizzies and dazzles the reader with a fantastic-and fantastical-story.”
-BookPage

“Sci-fi/fantasy/post-cyberpunk cult author Matt Ruff imagines an alternate world in which Arabia becomes the earth’s dominant superpower and America is a dictator-led, fundamentalist backwater. More than half the fun here comes from discovering all of the intricately clever consequences Ruff derives from that simple premise.”
-Details

“The alt-historical framework is in many ways the best and most entertaining part of the book, and you want it to expand beyond the mere 400 pages of The Mirage.”
-Seattle Weekly

“Furious entertainment. . . . It echoes Michael Chabon’s The Yiddish Policeman’s Union or Steven Barnes’s Lion’s Blood, but more comparisons will be made to Philip K. Dick’s World War II reimagining The Man in the High Castle.”
-The Onion's AV Club

“If you amalgamated the methodical, punctilious, world-building skills of Ian McDonald with the reality-distortion powers of Philip K. Dick and then folded in the satirical, take-no-prisoners savagery of Norman Spinrad, you might be able to produce a book approximating The Mirage.”
-Barnes and Nobles Review

“That The Mirage shares DNA with airport-kiosk genre exercises is nothing to be ashamed of. A good thriller is hard to pull off. The ingredients are clear enough: propulsive action, sympathetic characterization, and enough detail to ground the story without slowing things down.”
-The Philadelphia City Paper

“This book quite successfully challenges the ideas of Christian moral supremacy and the unchallenged political agenda of superpowers. It is a deeply satisfying novel which excites hopes of a long and productive career for this young writer.”
-Examiner.com

The Mirage is an intriguing addition to the genre . .. . Ruff spices up his tale with a wealth of arresting details. . . . Ruff keeps you reading, [out of] eagerness to see what twist he’ll think of next.”
-The New York Times Book Review

“An audacious new novel. . . . . The Mirage is a topsy-turvy tour de force, another winner from a truly inventive and unpredictable storyteller.”
-The San Francisco Chronicle

Product Details
ISBN: 9780061976230
ISBN-10: 0061976237
Publisher: Harper Perennial
Publication Date: February 12th, 2013
Pages: 414
Language: English
Series: P.S.