Having spent his childhood trapped in the slums of a politically volatile Caribbean island, Alexandre dreams of escape. Within only a few years, he rises from being a valet for an important politician to becoming a caretaker for a derelict estate purchased by a wealthy foreign businesswoman. While the rest of the country copes with the rise of a brutal dictator, Alexandre flees to his new home in the remote mountains outside the capital. There he oversees the restoration of a manor house and gardens that evoke for him an innocent, unspoiled past.
When his new employer sees a chance to turn the estate into something more—a decadent, jet-setting resort—Alexandre views the undertaking as the culmination of his dreams. Eager to lose himself in the creation of this opulent Eden, Alexandre severs the last links to his unhappy past, including his family and friends. But as the outside world starts to crumble around him, Alexandre must face the limits of the utopia he has created. Soon he is trapped in the middle of a war he has tried to ignore, and discovers he will have to choose between preserving the estate he loves and protecting the people he has spent his life trying to escape.
“Writing the book required immersing myself in a place and a society very different from my own. And it also required the delicate task of creating a narrator who was native to the place,” he said. “As a writer, I had to grapple with bringing to life a place, and place is very important in the book, that I didn't know intimately. And in writing the story I had to avoid the exoticizing that so often surfaces when people write about cultures foreign to their own.” Interestingly enough, political issues in the United States partly inspired him to write this book. “I'll talk about how this story actually arose out of my interest as a writer in political struggles in the U.S.,” he added. “The Boiling Season” is Hebert’s first novel. He graduated from Antioch College, where he also worked at the “Antioch Review.” He has spent time in Guatemala and taught in Mexico, and he worked as a research assistant to the author Susan Cheever. He earned an MFA in creative writing from the University of Michigan, and was awarded its prestigious Hopwood Award for fiction. He teaches at the University of Tennessee and lives in Knoxville with his son and his wife, the novelist Margaret Lazarus Dean. For more information about Hebert, please visit www.christopherhebert.com
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