Gregory Kirschling
October 15, 2004 AT 04:00 AM EDT

The Darling

type
Book
Current Status
In Season
author
Russell Banks
publisher
HarperCollins
genre
Fiction

We gave it a C

The Darling, the new novel by the author of The Sweet Hereafter, Affliction, and the great Continental Drift severely disappoints. The problem: a bloodless narrator named Hannah, a 58-year-old former Weather Underground revolutionary who returns in 2001 to tumultuous Liberia, where she’d left her three sons, her chimpanzee sanctuary, and the headless corpse of her vain husband 11 years previous. During her exile, who did Hannah miss the most? ”My only confidants,” she coos. That’s right: the chimps. She’s an emotional cripple, a fossilized version of Dian Fossey, and Russell Banks fails to make her or even her unsympathetic myopia compelling.

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