KARPOV'S BRAIN by Gerald Green


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Veteran novelist Green, author of TV's Holocaust, now offers an earnest, unsubtle morality play about the persecution of Jews in the USSR--with a KGB agent who switches from villain to hero via brain surgery and biofeedback. Schoolteacher Abram Levitch, a Shcharansky-like ""king of the refuseniks,"" has long been protesting, in his dogged, genial way, about his right to emigrate to Israel to join his wife. But now Levitch's Jewish demonstrators are teaming up with other dissidents (including a Sakharov-like scientist); so KGB sub-chief Karpov decides that Levitch must be firmly silenced once and for all. How? By framing Levitch for espionage--with a crude scheme involving a naive US reporter, a doctor-traitor among the refuseniks (modeled on the true-life doctor who betrayed Shcharansky), and top Soviet brain-researcher Irina Tarshenko. While masterminding this scheme, however, migraine-sufferer Karpov begins having epileptic seizures, turning to Dr. Tarshenko for help. . . and love: Karpov, whose wife has long been in an asylum, adores Dr. T. and has pressured her into sexual encounters in the past. (Her husband is a sometime dissident always in danger of arrest.) Feeling a mixture of lust, hate, and medical duty, Dr. Tarshenko recommends surgery for Karpov--a ""callosal commissurotomy"" to cut the nerve bundles connecting the two hemispheres of the brain. And, while Karpov is recuperating from the operation, trying to develop left-brain/right-bran coordination through biofeedback, Dr. T. uses the opportunity to remake Karpov's personality: using sex as the reward, she programs him to love Abram Levitch, who, convicted in a kangaroo trial, is now languishing in a prison camp. So, finally, Karpov's very soul has been changed--as he conquers his evil side (""Kill him, kill him, the right brain whispered. Let him go, the left brain said""). . . and sacrifices himself to free Levitch. Many readers will be disappointed when the fairly solid character-work here slides off into crude sci-fi and corny patness. But, for others: a readable, well-meaning sermonette/novel--made reasonably lively with humorous touches, a well-sketched supporting cast, and up-to-date (if over-broad) use of those trendy right-brain/left-brain theories.

Pub Date: July 18th, 1983
Publisher: Morrow