Hitting bookshelves and digital reading devices today is Matt Ruff’s latest, The Mirage, a mind-bending alternate history tale of “what if:” What if the events of 9/11 were reversed, and America attacked Iraq instead of the other way around? Here’s the description from Amazon:
11/9/2001: Christian fundamentalists hijack four jetliners. They fly two into the Tigris & Euphrates World Trade Towers in Baghdad, and a third into the Arab Defense Ministry in Riyadh. The fourth plane, believed to be bound for Mecca, is brought down by its passengers.
The United Arab States declares a War on Terror. Arabian and Persian troops invade the Eastern Seaboard and establish a Green Zone in Washington, D.C. . . .
Summer, 2009: Arab Homeland Security agent Mustafa al Baghdadi interrogates a captured suicide bomber. The prisoner claims that the world they are living in is a mirage—in the real world, America is a superpower, and the Arab states are just a collection of “backward third-world countries.” A search of the bomber’s apartment turns up a copy of The New York Times, dated September 12, 2001, that appears to support his claim. Other captured terrorists have been telling the same story. The president wants answers, but Mustafa soon discovers he’s not the only interested party.
The gangster Saddam Hussein is conducting his own investigation. And the head of the Senate Intelligence Committee—a war hero named Osama bin Laden—will stop at nothing to hide the truth. As Mustafa and his colleagues venture deeper into the unsettling world of terrorism, politics, and espionage, they are confronted with questions without any rational answers, and the terrifying possibility that their world is not what it seems.
Acclaimed novelist Matt Ruff has created a shadow world that is eerily recognizable but, at the same time, almost unimaginable. Gripping, subversive, and unexpectedly moving, The Mirage probes our deepest convictions and most arresting fears.
I love Matt Ruff! He’s a quirky writer and his style is hard to pin down, but if you love strange and creative stories, this is your guy. His books Sewer, Gas & Electric and Set This House in Order are favorites of mine. The Mirage has great reviews so far, and although the subject matter may be controversial, it’s one of those books that will probably get lots of attention for that reason alone. You can purchase The Mirage here and visit Matt’s website here.