MAALOUF/FIRST CENTURY AFTER BEATRIC--This text refers to the Paperback edition.
Copyright 1995 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
The narrator criticises the people "back then" at the start of the twenty-first century, as the tragedy began to make the news, for their indifference and removal from the subject, but sadly that is the reaction he provoked his this reader with his detatched, news soudbite-esque telling of the tale. ("And then, there was rioting in [insert name of fictional African country here].")
The very best passages in this novel are when the narrator speaks of his companion, Clarence, and his daughter, the eponymous Beatrice, and here the prose is shining with tenderness and love. Towards the end, events begin to threaten his loved ones directly, and the peril begins to feel real, but the danger never truly materialises.
In the end, this comes off more as an intellectual exercise in what-if than a living, breathing fiction.