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Raphael, Frederic

coast war follows deals

(US, 1931– )

Born in Chicago, Frederic Raphael grew up in England and was educated at St John's College, Cambridge. Begin with The Glittering Prizes (1976), his acclaimed treatment of the lives of a group of Cambridge students in the years after graduation. The main protagonist's comically inept attempt to pursue a dynamic media career provides much of the entertainment. Raphael's versatility is suggested by the very different Lindmann (1963). Its experimental narrative deals movingly with a British civil servant's efforts to atone for his part in the sinking of a ship carrying Jewish refugees to Palestine in 1942. He goes about doing so by adopting the identity of one of the passengers on the voyage. Much of the action in Like Men Betrayed (1970) is set in Greece during the Second World War. It follows the career of military commander Artemis Theodoros, whose great abilities are wasted in Greece's confused political opportunism after the war. Coast to Coast (1998) follows an apparently contented middle-class couple on their drive across America to their son's wedding in Los Angeles. At every stop on their journey memories are triggered which force them to confront unresolved aspects of their pasts. The early novel, The Limits of Love (1960), deals with the psychological alienation of a disaffected Jew. As his isolation grows increasingly intolerable, he begins to renew his connections with the community of his upbringing.

Howard Jacobson, Allan Massie, Saul Bellow  DH

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