An unnamed country is leaving the darkness of a decade at war, and to commemorate the armistice the government commissions a new road connecting two halves of the state. Two men, foreign contractors from the same company, are sent to finish the highway.
"Four knows instantly that Nine, his new partner, is an agent of chaos. The two strangers with their terse pseudonyms have been hired to pave a new road connecting the north and south of a poor, civil-war-ravaged country. The protocols are strict; the schedule is tight they are to complete the road in time for a celebratory parade and the dangers are many. Four pilots the grand RS-90, which lays down perfect asphalt; Nine rides ahead, scouting for obstacles. They are to set up tents next to their vehicles at night, keep their weapons handy, eat rations, and avoid contact with locals. Four is monastic in his discipline. Nine is a man of frank carnality and curiosity, as friendly as a bounding dog and utterly reckless. Clearly things will go awry, but how and how badly? The ever-incisive, wordly-wise, compassionate, and imaginative Eggers (The Monk of Mokha, 2018) maintains the tension of a cocked crossbow in this magnetizing, stealthily wry, and increasingly chilling tale of First World corporate mercenaries way out of their element. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: Requests will pour in from Eggers' many fans as well as devotees of concentrated and suspenseful works of culture-clash fiction.--Donna Seaman Copyright 2019 Booklist"
From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Publisher's Weekly Review:
"Eggers's unremarkable latest (after The Monk of Mokha) follows two unnamed men sent to an unnamed country by an unnamed corporation to pave a road. The country-tropical, malarial-is emerging from years of civil war, and a new road running through the heart of the country is intended to be a first step by the government to unite the populace. The men charged with paving it are code-named Four and Nine. Four is a stoic company man intent on getting the job done ahead of schedule and with as little fuss as possible. Nine exists seemingly only to annoy Four; he talks incessantly, has no problem breaking company protocol-particularly when it comes to interacting with locals, which the company prohibits but he engages in endlessly-and does pretty much anything other than his job, including playing in a potentially contaminated river. As Four gets to work, Nine becomes increasingly irresponsible, and after his antics predictably get him ill and in trouble with the locals, both men end up in a precarious, possibly grave, situation. The repetitive narrative, sparse prose, and overall vagueness lend this an allegorical feel, and because the reader spends the whole book waiting for the hammer to drop, when it finally does (on the last page), it lands with more a thud than a wallop. There's nothing particularly bad about this, but it comes across as more an exercise than a full-blooded novel. (Mar.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved."
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