The Fountain at the Centre of the World
by Robert Newman

UK publication details:
Published by Verso
Sept. 2003
Price 10.99
isbn: 1 85984 573 8
320 pages

US publication details:
Published by Soft Skull Press
February 1 2004
Price $14.95
isbn: 1-932360-11-5
356 pages

Everyone is looking for Chano Salgado... High-flying corporate PR executive Evan Hatch is dying. Dying not of a rich man's disease, but of chagas, a beetle-born disease endemic to Latin America. Desperate for a cure, Evan travels to Mexico in search of the bone-marrow tissue-match that only the brother he has never met can provide.

Reclusive young widower and political apostate, Chano Salgado's work sterilizing bottles in a tiny, smoky shack comes to an end when he is persuaded to blow up the pipelines of Ethylclad, a toxic-waste plant sucking the local groundwater dry.

Police and soldiers across Tamaulipas, Mexico's northeasternmost state, are hunting Chano Salgado the terrorist saboteur; while teenager Daniel Salgado, boards a Costa Rican fishing-smack knowing only the name of the Mexican village where he was born.

An epic novel about loss and hope, identity and belief, the story takes us, via container-crate and conference-suite, assassination and passport-theft, from refugee detention centre and Rio Bravo to the Seattle WTO protests. And here on the streets of Seattle, amid tear gas and rubber bullets, the destinies of Chano, Evan and Daniel are changed forever.

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what the papers say

  • "It reads like what you'd get if Tom Wolfe clambered inside the head of Noam Chomsky -- it elegantly and angrily scorches a lot of earth...the talismanic 'Catch-22' of the antiglobalization protest movement, the fictional complement to Naomi Klein's influential treatise 'No Logo'." - The New York Times

  • "War novels need not revel in bloodshed and closely document inhumane horrors to be viscerally effective. Nor must they even be about war in the conventional shock-and-awe sense. So you could say the best war novel on the shelves now is Robert Newman's The Fountain at the Center of the World". - Tacoma Tribune

  • "A testimonial to Newman's formidable range, intelligence and talent." - Publisher's Weekly

  • "The Fountain At The Centre Of The World is a wonderful, big-hearted, textured, funny, moral and deeply unfashionable book." - Zoe Williams, The Guardian

  • " ... [a] spirited attempt to reconcile the larger forces at work in the world through fiction. Could this herald a resuscitation of the English "literary political novel", almost dead in the water since the best work of Malcolm Lowry and Graham Greene? [Newman] has ... taken a rare risk for our mortgage-panic, leather-sofa era, to remind us how the personal is political - and vice versa." - The Independent

  • "The Fountain At The Centre Of The World is perhaps the first novel to really explore the human story behind the placard waving and polemics of globalisation ... it is fiction that tells a truth about a world that is only too real." - The Ecologist

  • "It's like bootleg Chomsky ... The Fountain at the Centre of the World is a serious and intelligent book. It's a novel that confronts everything that is wrong with the world and demands that which is right, and it therefore makes a lot of British fiction seem rather tender-minded in comparison." - The Guardian

  • "It is rare to find such a politically engaged novel. There has been plenty of fiction that has had a political edge or implications, but this book is much more than that. It is openly partisan... uncomfortable reading for advocates of the current global set-up." - The Socialist Review

  • "Newman has written a big, generous book, filling canisters with facts and philosophy . then igniting them with keen observations of everyday life.... Stings, burns and yes, brings tears." - The American Prospect

  • "His descriptions create similar feelings to those left by Gabriel Garcia Marquez... intricately constructed, told from the heart and definitely worth a go, whatever your viewpoint... Well researched, entertaining and insightful." - Adam Corres, Diverse Books

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