Private (or corporate) power vs. people (or worker) power in this latest evocation of the war between the haves and have-nots: a US debut for British author Newman.
“If the Cold War was the Third World War, then this is the Fourth.” The speaker, a battered and beleaguered picketer, is referring to the violence that ripped through downtown Seattle in late 1999, disrupting the meeting of the World Trade Organization. Enmeshed, despite themselves, in the struggle between anti-globalization protesters and riot police are the three major figures here, all with complicated agendas. Evan Hatch works for a London-based p.r. firm specializing in “issues management”—or, as he willingly acknowledges, flim-flam on behalf of the multinational corporate culture. Life is good for pragmatic Evan. He’s well fixed financially, expert at his job, and comfortably sanguine, he insists, with the shedding of youthful idealism. And then the blow falls: he’s diagnosed with leukemia. When he goes searching for the Mexican brother he’s been long separated from, however, it’s for the sake not of blood ties but blood type, plus the bone marrow he desperately hopes will keep him alive. Chano Salgado, Evan’s brother, is a militant radical on the run after blowing up the pipeline belonging to a profit-mongering industrial polluter. Daniel, 14, is meanwhile in Seattle, hoping to locate the father he loves (Chano) but has never known. As a baby, Daniel was sent from Mexico to Costa Rica in order to keep him out of the hands of those who hated the father. Paths cross and crisscross during the Battle of Seattle, and, in the end, each finds something important—as important, perhaps, as what he was looking for.
Newman, intent on the novel of ideas, allows three interesting characters to be swamped by intellectual overflow.