Paris Metro: A Novel (Paperback)
Written by an international journalist, the protagonist of this excellent novel shares the author's peripatetic occupation. Catherine "Kit" Kittredge is assigned to cover the American invasion of Iraq in 2003. There, she falls in love with her Iraqi translator, the charming Ahmed. They are wary world-wanderers, both of them raised in Europe and America, estranged from family, and highly suspicious of all instututions: religions, governments, the military. Steavenson knows these topics well and does a wonderful job of weaving in her nuanced understanding of Arabic culture, terrorism, immigration, Islamophobia, and other current issues. More than just a novel of ideas, this is also the very tender story of Kit's struggle to raise Ahmed's son, Little Ahmed, in Paris. The elusive and often-absent Ahmed isn’t terribly helpful; instead, she's aided by her ersatz family: her godfather who's an ambassador, her friend Rousse who works at Charlie Hebdo, and a photojournalist friend named Zorro. These and others enigmatic characters enliven this very rich and deeply human world. The wonderful Paris Metro will live inside me for a long time to come.— Michael
“A nuanced, engrossing novel about conviction and terrorism in a cosmopolitan, complicated world.”—National Book Review
From the American invasion of Iraq in 2003 to the terrorist attacks in Paris in 2015, Paris Metro is a story of East meets West. Kit, a reporter, has spent several years after 9/11 living in the Middle East, working as a correspondent for an American newspaper. Along the way she falls in love and marries a charismatic Iraqi diplomat named Ahmed, before their separation leaves Kit raising their teenage son alone in Paris. But after the Charlie Hebdo attack occurs and, a few months later, terrorists storm the Bataclan, Kit’s core beliefs are shattered. The violence she had spent years covering abroad is now on her doorstep. As Kit struggles with her grief and confusion, she begins to mistrust those closest to her: her friends, her husband, even her own son.
About the Author
Wendell Steavenson, whose writing has appeared in The New Yorker, the Guardian, and Granta, is the author of three books of reporting. She was a 2014 Nieman Fellow at Harvard University. Born in New York, Steavenson lives in Paris.
— Louise Doughty
Accomplished and deftly plotted.
— Benjamin Balint
[A] gripping story.… Steavenson’s firsthand knowledge of what it was like to cover these subjects gives Paris Metro necessary authority.
— Bradley Bebendir
[Steavenson’s] debut novel is sophisticated in both its politics and its treatment of the family drama.… Fans of work by Graham Greene or John le Carré will find much to admire in the engrossing Paris Metro.
— Harvey Freedenberg
[A] very fine novel. Deeply informed by the author’s experiences as a journalist but triumphantly transmuted into intelligent and heartfelt fiction.
[An] expansive debut novel.… Powerfully merges the personal and the political.
With unflinching realism and complicated, captivating characters, Steavenson tackles the turbulent realities of the war against terror.
This ultimately engrossing insider’s view of complicated geopolitics and conflicted identity doesn’t condescend to the reader, offering no simple pieties as it upends stereotypes.
Paris Metro is a love story between a Western journalist and an Iraqi diplomat that raises the biggest questions about war, religion, and the complicated relationship between the West and the Arab world. Wendell Steavenson has beautifully drawn vivid and convincing characters who will live forever in your imagination. It’s not just a good novel, it is a significant piece of our life.
— Alaa Al Aswany, author of The Yacoubian Building
Every war correspondent dreams of writing a killer novel. Most fail. Wendell Steavenson has succeeded wildly. She’s written a powerful, thoroughly modern novel that goes straight at the big troubling themes of our time with vigor and clear-eyed honesty. Paris Metro won’t let you go.
— Karl Taro Greenfeld, author of The Subprimes