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Exiles in America (2006)

by Christopher Bram

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1092196,617 (3.45)2
Zack Knowles and Daniel Wexler have been together for twenty-one years. Zack is a psychiatrist, Daniel an art teacher at a college in Virginia. In the fall of 2002, a few months before the Iraq War, a new artist in residence, Abbas Rohani, arrives with his Russian wife, Elena, and their two children. But Abbas is not quite what he seems, and soon he and Daniel begin an affair. After love throws the two families together, politics threatens the future of both in ways no one could have predicted. A novel that explores how the personal becomes political, Exiles in America offers an intimate look at the meaning of marriage, gay and straight, and demonstrates the breathtaking skill and daring imagination that have garnered Christopher Bram widespread critical acclaim.… (more)
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The hype about this book and the review in LBR make it seem like the point of the book is the effect of an affair on a long-term gay male relationship. If you read the book for that reason, I think you'll be very disappointed, as the LBR reviewer was. This is a book about exiles: political exiles, self-made exiles, people who are exiled from their relationships, people who are exiled within their communities because of who they are. I thought it had a number of profound things to say about exile, how different people deal with it, and the kinds of things it makes people do. ( )
  aulsmith | Sep 4, 2014 |
A fine book, well-crafted and sensitive. The characters are those slightly-idealized versions of real people that only fiction can present; they are models to which we can compare ourselves. Which is, ultimately, what this book is about: it's about us. It asks us--explicitly at last, in the final few pages--to look inward at ourselves, at our own lives, and loves, and desires, and to judge ourselves fairly and honestly. I get the feeling that readers of this book will all see it slightly differently, because, looking inward, they will all discover something unique to themselves. At times, the metaphors can get cloying, the "know thyself" rhetoric a bit clumsy. But this is perhaps only an attempt to appeal to the less jaded among us--those who still enjoy a parable, even while recognizing its inadequacies. Bram comes from the same place as Tolstoy here, albeit a modernized version, well-schooled by modern liberalism and ubiquitous psychoanalysis. He has a point to make about the ways we live, now. This is a book that is intended to be Good For You. But he writes with honesty, craft, and abundant love. I was won over, despite my cynic's heart. ( )
  ben_h | Apr 6, 2011 |
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Zack Knowles and Daniel Wexler have been together for twenty-one years. Zack is a psychiatrist, Daniel an art teacher at a college in Virginia. In the fall of 2002, a few months before the Iraq War, a new artist in residence, Abbas Rohani, arrives with his Russian wife, Elena, and their two children. But Abbas is not quite what he seems, and soon he and Daniel begin an affair. After love throws the two families together, politics threatens the future of both in ways no one could have predicted. A novel that explores how the personal becomes political, Exiles in America offers an intimate look at the meaning of marriage, gay and straight, and demonstrates the breathtaking skill and daring imagination that have garnered Christopher Bram widespread critical acclaim.

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Zack Knowles, a psychologist, and Daniel Wexler, an art teacher at a college in Virginia, have been together for twenty-one years. In the fall of 2002, a few months before the Iraq War, a new artist in residence, Abbas Rohani, arrives with his Russian wife, Elena, and their two children. But Abbas is not quite what he seems, and he begins an affair with Daniel. Soon politics intrude upon two families thrown together by love, threatening the future of both in ways no one could have predicted.

A novel that explores how the personal becomes political, Exiles in America offers an intimate look at the meaning of marriage, gay and straight.
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