Rob's Reviews > The Darling

The Darling by Russell Banks
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's review
Oct 07, 2011

it was amazing
Read from October 07 to 20, 2011

I'd forgotten how much I love Russell Banks. The Darling is complex, sprawling, melancholy, and terrifying, and it taught me more about Liberia than I thought I'd ever learn (and want to know). It's useless to try and summarize the plot except to say that it's about a woman who becomes a traitor to the U.S. in the 60's, moves to Africa, marries a member of Liberia's ruling party, and opens a sanctuary for chimps. Except it's so much more than that. Like his earlier novel Cloudsplitter (about radical abolitionist John Brown), Banks bases his novel in the historical record (Liberian ex-president William Tolbert and dictators Samuel Doe and Charles Taylor are all characters), and then uses those facts to tell a compelling story. Masterful work.
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