For ten years, Norma has been the on-air voice of consolation and hope for the Indians in the mountains and the poor from the barrios—a people broken by war's violence. As the host of Lost City Radio, she reads the names of those who have disappeared—those whom the furiously expanding city has swallowed. Through her efforts lovers are reunited and the lost are found. But in the aftermath of the decadelong bloody civil conflict, her own life is about to forever change—thanks to the arrival of a young boy from the jungle who provides a cryptic clue to the fate of Norma's vanished husband.
Danticat came to think of her uncle Joseph, a charismatic pastor, as her "second father" when she was placed in his care at age four when her parents left Haiti for America. So she experiences a jumble of emotions when, at twelve, she joins her parents in New York City, whom she struggles to remember--she has left behind Joseph and the only home she's ever known. The story of a new life in a new country while fearing for those still in Haiti soon becomes a terrifying tale of good people caught up in events beyond their control. In 2004, his life threatened by a gang, the frail, 81-year-old Joseph makes his way to Miami, where he thinks he will be safe. Instead, he is detained by the Department of Homeland Security, brutally imprisoned, and dead within days. It was a story that made headlines around the world.
Things have never been easy for Oscar, a sweet but disastrously overweight, lovesick Dominican ghetto nerd. From his home in New Jersey, where he lives with his old-world mother and rebellious sister, Oscar dreams of becoming the Dominican J. R. R. Tolkien and, most of all, of finding love. But he may never get what he wants, thanks to the Fuku-the curse that has haunted the Oscar's family for generations, dooming them to prison, torture, tragic accidents, and, above all, ill-starred love. Oscar, still waiting for his first kiss, is just its most recent victim.
The rise and fall of ancient Rome has been on American minds from the beginning of our Republic. Depending on who's doing the talking, the history of Rome serves either as a triumphal call to action, or a dire warming of imminent collapse. Esteemed editor and author Murphy ventures past the pundits' rhetoric to draw nuanced lessons about how we might avoid Rome's demise. Working on a canvas that extends far beyond the issue of an overstretched military, Murphy reveals a wide array of similarities between the two empires: the blinding, insular culture of our capitals; the debilitating effect of corruption; the paradoxical issue of borders; and the weakening of the body politic through various forms of "privatization." Most pressingly, he argues that we most resemble Rome in the burgeoning corruption of our government and in our arrogant ignorance of the world outside--two things that are in our power to change.