Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Mission Song” as Want to Read:
The Mission Song
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Mission Song

3.3 of 5 stars 3.30  ·  rating details  ·  3,121 ratings  ·  394 reviews
Abandoned by both his Irish father and Congolese mother, Bruno Salvador has long looked for someone to guide his life. He has found it in Mr. Anderson of British Intelligence.Bruno's African upbringing, and fluency in numerous African languages, has made him a top interpreter in London, useful to businesses, hospitals, diplomats-and spies. Working for Anderson in a clandes ...more
Hardcover, 339 pages
Published September 19th 2006 by Little, Brown and Company (first published 2006)
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Mission Song, please sign up.

Popular Answered Questions

Sasha I also haven't read this book but the synopsis sounds remarkably similar to the 2005 film The Interpreter, which has a female protagonist (Nicole…moreI also haven't read this book but the synopsis sounds remarkably similar to the 2005 film The Interpreter, which has a female protagonist (Nicole Kidman). The movie has similar plot elements: A protagonist draws on languages learned through a childhood in Central Africa to build a career as a high-powered diplomatic translator and in the course of this work accidentally overhears a nefarious scheme that implicates the highest tiers of political power: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Inte...(less)
Blood River by Tim ButcherThe Poisonwood Bible by Barbara KingsolverOut of Africa by Karen BlixenThe No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency by Alexander McCall SmithDon't Let's Go to the Dogs Tonight by Alexandra Fuller
Best books for an African Safari
52nd out of 386 books — 572 voters
Blood River by Tim ButcherKing Leopold's Ghost by Adam HochschildThe Poisonwood Bible by Barbara KingsolverDancing in the Glory of Monsters by Jason  StearnsHeart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad
Books Set in the Congo
15th out of 123 books — 94 voters


More lists with this book...

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
Darwin8u
My basic take on 'The Mission Song' is similar to Alvy's old joke in Annie Hall:

"um... two elderly women are at a Catskill mountain resort, and one of 'em says, "Boy, the food at this place is really terrible." The other one says, "Yeah, I know; and such small portions."

Well, that's essentially how I feel about this book. Actually, wait no, I don't think 'The Mission Song' was terrible. I thought parts of it were actually brilliant and the potential for brilliance was huge. I loved the idea of
...more
David
This is one of le Carré's post-Cold War novels, and the subject is Africa. Like all of his spy thrillers, the tone is seedy, cynical, and heartbreaking, as a decent man has his idealism shattered and sees his best intentions trampled on and turned to shit.

"Salvo" is the son of a British missionary and a Congolese woman. He's grown up in England, and now he's a fully Anglocized African... or so he thinks. He makes a good living as a translator, having a talent for languages and knowing a bunch of
...more
Maureen
Aug 13, 2008 Maureen rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: everyone
Shelves: novel, espionage, africa
I found this to be one of the most successful of LeCarre's post-Cold War novels. His sense of outrage over conditions in Africa mirrors those of The Constant Gardener. The characters are compelling, and utterly believable.

As I was reading this book, I jotted down a list of phrases that caught my fancy. LeCarre's writing style is one of the best of any modern writer. Rather than review the plot of the novel, I thought I would share some of the language of the book. Here is my list:

"...[he] rakes
...more
Charles
I'm a fan of Le Carré, particularly the angrily politicised version we've seen in the last few novels, but I wonder how much longer he'll be able to use his "innocent against the corrupt system" structure without it becoming tired and predictable. To be honest, I think it just has; and that's one of the problems with this novel. The narrator/hero is an interpreter and Le Carré gets a lot of mileage out of the idea of truth, and its manipulation, but inevitably the action, or a large chunk of it, ...more
Abdullah
((الترجمة التي قتلت المترجم))

القصة – الرواية هي العشرون للكاتب الشهير (جون ليكارييه) وبالمناسبة فهو انجليزي بعكس ما قد يشي به اسمه للأذن العربية من وقع موسيقي فرنسي ، الرواية تدور حول أفريقيا الوسطى المظلومة من العالم كله وما يحاك لها من دسائس ومؤامرات تبدأ من أهلها ولا تنتهي في بلاد المؤلف ...
بطل الرواية هو مترجم لطيف ألا أن الترجمة الصادرة من الدار الناشرة للغة العربية قد قتلت المؤلف بعدم وجود قراءة ثانية ، فالقارئ العربي لا يكره شيئا كما يكره أن يقرأ عبارة "هل لديك شيء من الكلتان للبيع ، قال
...more
Chloe
It's no secret that the state of African politics is corrupt and dirty. Still reeling from decades of colonization by Western nations, riven by tribal loyalties, brutally ruled by an ever-changing assortment of strongman rulers who can temporarily unite a people before collapsing into the ever-familiar patterns of megalomania and constructing their own cult of personality, the continent seems like the nearly perfect place to set a tale of intrigue and betrayal of the sort that John le Carre has ...more
Jim
Bruno Salvador, the main character and narrative voice of this novel, is a mixed race British citizen born in the Congo, but now living in England. His superior skills as an interpreter bring him to the attention of British Intelligence, who call on him to attend a secret meeting between Congolese warlords and the representatives of European financiers. The meeting unfolds like a stud poker tournament, each player weighing his hand against the cards he can see and the actions of the other player ...more
Patrick
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Geoffrey
Jul 09, 2008 Geoffrey rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: anyone
Recommended to Geoffrey by: saw on book shelf
Shelves: thrillers
I enjoyed this departure of sorts by the master of English espionage. The central character, Bruno Salvador, displayed incredible naivete in his role as master interpreter for Her Majesty's Government. The story reveals truths about the world of global politics and nations that most may not know, nor want to. In this case, the realities of Africa are brought to light, though not a new subject. Well-done Mr. LeCarre.
Mike
I picked up this book from a friend's shelf, because I've never read any books by John le Carré and I've always been interested. Unfortunately I was rather disappointed. I should say, however, that at least some of my disappointment was probably a result of incorrect expectations. The rest of the review is a spoiler, so proceed with caution if you want to read this book some day!

(view spoiler)
...more
Susan
The beginning and the end of this novel are superb. Le Carre at his best, mixing a thriller plot with humor and biting social criticism. The middle is a confusing mess of African characters, causes, and conspiracies—it’s hard to follow and sometimes tedious.
Le Carre creates a marvelous character, Bruno Salvador (“Salvo”) who’s the son of an bog Irish priest who served his whole life in the Congo and a Congolese woman who was sent back to her village after the birth. After his father’s death, by
...more
Aquavit
I found this book frustrating. On the one hand, Carre is taking dead aim with outrage at sub-Saharan African politics, back-room dealings and the general indifference/greed of the remaining global nation-state coterie who appear willing to wait out short breaks in the constant bloodbath to run in and scoop out a chunk of mineral wealth. His quivering outrage is clear. He reiterates it over and over and over, even though the best and brightest part is this almost chess-like philosophical and ling ...more
Karyl
Bruno Salvadore, Salvo to his friends, is a man of amazing linguistic capabilities. Speaking a whole slew of African languages, plus several European ones, he is hired to interpret at a secret summit supposedly aimed at bringing peace to war-torn Congo. Unfortunately, he finds out that the men who are supposedly committed to bringing peace are really only in it to make as much money off the chaos of the situation in the Congo as possible. This is not at all a surprise among the more jaded of us. ...more
Philip
In The Mission Song John le Carré re-visits the world of espionage that we associate with his writing. He is a master of the clandestine, the deniable, the re-definable. Bruno Salvador is a freelance linguist. His parentage is complex, his origins confused, but his skills beyond question. By virtue of an upbringing that had many influences, he develops the ability to absorb languages. Having lived in francophone Africa and then England, he is fluent in both English and French plus an encyclopaed ...more
Sil
Aun no descubro cómo es para poner los libros en el Shelf porque este aun lo estoy LEYENDO.
Bueno, descubrí este libro en el aeropuerto de Nairobi en noviembre de 2006 y fue realmente una sensación fuerte. Venía de estar trabajando en la ciudad donde se narra parte de este libro, Bukavu, en la provincia de Sud Kivu en la República Democrática del Congo.
Leandro me había enviado un link cuando estaba allí, porque había descubierto que este señor había estado poco tiempo antes en el mismo hotel dond
...more
Prashanth Nuggehalli Srinivas
Dec 04, 2011 Prashanth Nuggehalli Srinivas rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Prashanth by: Fahdi Dkhimi
Shelves: fiction
Superb novel, but perhaps needs at least some understanding of global politicking and/or African politics and neo-colonial narratives - at least if the reader is informed a bit on these, s/he will love the book. Intense and like many of le carres, fast-paced. Yet differs from most of his other spy thrillers in the fact that it delves much more into few characters and their personal lives.

It reads almost like a biography of Bruno Salvador, half Congolese boy (other half Irish) who "somehow" ends
...more
Forrest
the book follows a few days of a Congo born son of a missionary and Congolese women. Salvo is a top interpreter who occasionally works for the British governments clandestine services. Just as he is reaches a person cross roads in his life, he falls in love with a women from his homeland while his marriage to an English women is falling apart, he is offered a job to translate for a private entity that is working at arms length for the British government.
John Le Carre is one of my favorites of c
...more
Barbwebb1
John LeCarre is a "popular" writer, but also a very skilled one who makes good writing seem effortless. I find it relaxing to read his books because I have a certain level of trust. I can let my guard down without waiting for the sentence when the writing becomes labored or contrived. I think LeCarre is one of those writers who will be most appreciated as "serious" after he is gone.

Like The Constant Gardener, this is a book about post-colonial influence in Africa and the impulse in outsiders to
...more
David J.
Oct 30, 2007 David J. rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Seasoned Le Carré fans only
At one level, this is vintage Le Carré. At another, it falls flat on its face. Le Carré is a great writer, getting on a bit now, and he attempts to do a first-person narrative inside the skin of a mixed-race (Caucasian/African) 28-year-old man. It doesn't work - there are far too many references to things the narrator cannot have been familiar with. My other gripe about this one is that, unusually compared with Le Carré at his peak (anywhere from Tinker, Tailor to The Night Manager), he fails to ...more
Colleen
This is a thoughtful book by Le Carre, set in England, but about East Africa. A young half black interpretor, raised around Lake Kivu in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, finds himself in the middle of a conference set up between the British secret service and representatives of several African factions who want to overthrow the corrupt government of his former homeland. He savors languages like a gourmet savors flavors. During the conference he listens in electronically ...more
William
A well plotted, engaging, and wonderfully populated thriller that explores the at times self-defeating goals and complexities of African democracies, while underscoring the backhanded practices of Western agencies to undermine individuals, and nations, who stand in their way.

Le Carré's "The Mission Song," seems better crafted, clearer, and more engaging in many ways than the near-perfect "Constant Gardener." This is a brilliant novel of espionage, love, and sacrifice that has something to say, t
...more
Don
It’s often difficult to know the “good guys” these days. Friend or foe? Who are the forces of right vs. the exploitative encroachers? Master spy-novel spinner, John LeCarre, presents us with the fictional tale of Bruno “Salvo” Salvador (a Congolese-born and raised, now UK/Northern Ireland citizen) expert government interpreter, master of English, French, Swahili, and a host of Eastern Congo local languages – dropped into a scene of intrigue that shatter the workplace and diplomatic boundaries w ...more
Steve
Bruno Salvador (aka Salvo) is young man, now living in London, of mixed race, born of a Congolese mom and an Irish Catholic missionary. A natural at languages and a master of many African tongues, Bruno finds work as an interpreter, including work for British Intelligence. It is through his British Intelligence work, given his ability with African languages, that he is given a hush-hush assignment for a private group and flown to a remote island where he translates/interprets for the congregants ...more
Valerie
David John Moore Cornwell, using the pen name John le Carre, has written so many exciting books that when I found this one in my local library I picked it up without hesitation. During the 1950s and the 1960s, Cornwell worked for the British Intelligence services MI5 and MI6, and began writing novels so his books have a feeling of authority that few writers command.

The Mission Song is a story where Bruno Salvador was abandoned by both his Irish father and Congolese mother. As a result of this he
...more
Sam Reaves
The war in the eastern Congo that has raged off and on for the past couple of decades has to be the most under-reported human disaster of our times. In this 2006 novel, John LeCarré takes on the multiple issues underlying the conflict, including ethnic strife and outside scheming aimed at gaining control of the region's abundant mineral resources.
Bruno Salvador is the mixed-race son of an Irish missionary and a Congolese woman; his partly African, partly British upbringing has left him uniquely
...more
Rod Raglin

The world has changed and so has Le Carré.
He has moved from the subtle to the vulgar, from nuance to overt.

His hero in his novel The Mission Song, is a departure from the usual quiet civil servant/spy a product of the British public school system, a product of class conformity, a model of diplomacy, firmly routed and strengthened in idealogy.

Bruno Salvador is a young man born in the Congo to an Congolese woman and a Irish missionary, a by-product of post colonialism and part of the new, not so G
...more
Peter Wibaux
I stumbled across The Mission Song on Kindle, and was surprised I hadn't read it when it came out—or maybe I did, in tandem with others, and completely forgot about it.

This time I read it with the latest (and last) Tom Clancy, and the contrast in writing quality is shocking. Le Carré is a master at bringing you into a story, and this time he does it through the eyes of a Congolese interpreter, who finds himself involved in a seedy conspiracy to overthrow the government.

The rapacious western mult
...more
Calamarsa
Valiente porquería, de estilo y contenido a la par. Primero, ¿por qué escribe así? Hace una mala selección de frases y palabras (sí, he dicho mala, no original). Toda la novela quiere tener un tono de “inteligencia irónica”, pero lo único que consigue es que no se entienda, por ejemplo, si un helicóptero está aterrizando o teniendo turbulencias. Segundo: el timing es horrible. Tercero: machista: mujer independiente = acaba siendo una puta (¡qué casualidad!); enfermera + voluntaria con niños = cu ...more
Mark
This book's opening chapters are among the most beautifully and evocatively-written fiction pages I have read in a long time. While the book's twists and turns in the second half are a bit wearisome at times, the ultimate arc of this story is moving deeply consistent with a larger description of the personalities and flavor of the Congo, as well as the sociology of its troubled choices and outcomes.
Brendan Detzner
John le Carre's George Smiley books are some of my favorite things ever, and I'm a big fan of creators of all stripes who just keep on going as they get older (this is his 20th novel and he wrote it in his mid-seventies), but his other books have been very hit and miss, love or hate. This one was a love. There are trace amounts of some of the things that have bothered me about some of his other later novels- his female characters are not great, and this is a amateur-in-over-his-head story and no ...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 99 100 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
The Mission Song, John Le Carré 4 36 Jun 29, 2014 07:33AM  
The Mission Song, John Le Carré 1 16 Oct 30, 2007 08:03AM  
  • Faith (Bernard Samson, #7)
  • Blood of Victory (Night Soldiers, #7)
  • The Fourth Order
  • A Darker Place (Sean Dillion, #16)
  • The Tears of Autumn (Paul Christopher #2)
  • Cause for Alarm
  • Never Send Flowers (John Gardner's Bond, #13)
  • The Nearest Exit (The Tourist, #2)
  • Drugs, Oil & War: The United States in Afghanistan, Colombia & Indochina
1411964
John le Carré, the pseudonym of David John Moore Cornwell (born 19 October 1931 in Poole, Dorset, England), is an English author of espionage novels. Le Carré has resided in St Buryan, Cornwall, Great Britain, for more than 40 years, where he owns a mile of cliff close to Land's End.

See also: John le Carré - Wikipedia
More about John le Carré...
Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy The Spy Who Came In from the Cold Smiley's People The Russia House The Constant Gardener

Share This Book