The Exchange-Rate Between Love and Money

The worldly young people of Thomas Leveritt's novel have all the information they need. They know that religion doesn't work; ideology doesn't work; movements and philanthropy and even basic goodness are broken irredeemably. Ah, but there's always graft, corruption, and commerce; the profit motive, the predatory principle. Leveritt's protagonist Bannerman joins his buddy Frito in a venture exporting Bosnian beer from a Sarajevo transformed into by war, ethnic cleansing, and international aid into a bazaar of gnashing teeth. The beer, Frito is convinced, was the secret to the Sarajevans' uncanny survival during the siege; this makes it not only an enticing enigma but -- more important to Frito -- a saleable brand. But Bannerman and Frito's designs go awry; they find the almighty dollar is broken, too -- broken by design, and no warranty. What's left? Love, of course: Bannerman falls into it with Frito's girlfriend, Clare, a placid, freckled prosecutor for The Hague. Love is broken, too, but we already knew that; everything that falls converges also. As love and the export business break them, Bannerman and Frito turn to bounty hunting, helping to seize the war criminals who are as abundant as beer in the once-besieged city. In the end they're left with violence -- which always works, only never as intended. Leveritt's novel is knowing, sometimes cloyingly so. But he catches the frustrated hopes of a generation for whom cosmopolitan idealism and world-weary ennui are unresolved. And he does it through a living idiom that fizzes, crackles, and tingles but never breaks.

April 24: "[The HST] lifted a curtain from our view of the universe, changing it so profoundly that no human can look at the stars in the same way..."

Kenneth Calhoun (Black Moon) and Lysley Tenorio (Monstress) of the Discover Great New Writers program on B-movies, heritage, and finales.

Books, CDs, DVDs to know about now
In the Light of What We Know

Zia Haider Rahman's mystery of a brilliant Bangladeshi mathematician's past barrels through the Ivy League, London high finance, and spy-haunted Afghanistan in a page-turning tale of exile, intrigue and the price of friendship. A Discover Great New Writers selection.

The People's Platform

Once touted as the foundation for tomorrow's digital democracy, the Internet is increasingly ruled by a few corporate giants, while millions of contributors till its fields for free. Astra Taylor looks at why the web has failed to deliver a communitarian cyberscape, and offers a compelling case for restoring its original vision.

A Private Venus

Dubbed "the Italian Simenon," Giorgio Scerbanenco (1911-1969) began his crime-writing career with books set in the USA, but quickly shifted scene closer to home, the city of Milan.  In this adventure, appearing in English for the first time, his underdog hero Dr. Duca Lamberti finds himself in the middle of a seedy, scantily clad criminal racket, where the presence of an outsider could result in death.