Random. Feb. 2020. 480p. ISBN 9781400069606. $28. F
Bassam and Rami have a seemingly impossible relationship. A Palestinian and an Israeli, respectively, they are connected by the historical conflict between their nations as well as by tragedy, for they have both lost children to political violence. Their losses are, like the infinitely faceted polygon of the title, almost unimaginable and so unspeakable. But together, Rami and Bassam travel the world to speak about the deaths of their daughters and their shared hope for a different world. The tale of these friends in mourning resists simple storytelling expectations such as beginnings and endings and is more truthfully represented here by telling other stories, from avian migration and the evolution of ordnance to Jorge Luis Borges’s 1969 trip to Jerusalem and the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls.
VERDICT Organized into 1,001 sections, this novel from McCann (Let the Great World Spin) beautifully re-creates Rami and Bassam’s real-life relationship while offering a sweeping range of counterbalancing narratives, ultimately conveying the profound essentiality of their friendship. An important book; McCann’s considerable creative powers astound. [See Prepub Alert, 7/21/19.]

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