The Mirage

The Mirage

Book - 2012
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A mind-bending novel in which an alternate history of 9/11 and its aftermath uncovers startling truths about America and the Middle East

11/9/2001: Christian fundamentalists hijack four jetliners. They fly two into the Tigris & Euphrates World Trade Towers in Baghdad, and a third into the Arab Defense Ministry in Riyadh. The fourth plane, believed to be bound for Mecca, is brought down by its passengers.

The United Arab States declares a War on Terror. Arabian and Persian troops invade the Eastern Seaboard and establish a Green Zone in Washington, D.C. . . .

Summer, 2009: Arab Homeland Security agent Mustafa al Baghdadi interrogates a captured suicide bomber. The prisoner claims that the world they are living in is a mirage--in the real world, America is a superpower, and the Arab states are just a collection of "backward third-world countries." A search of the bomber's apartment turns up a copy of The New York Times, dated September 12, 2001, that appears to support his claim. Other captured terrorists have been telling the same story. The president wants answers, but Mustafa soon discovers he's not the only interested party.

The gangster Saddam Hussein is conducting his own investigation. And the head of the Senate Intelligence Committee--a war hero named Osama bin Laden--will stop at nothing to hide the truth. As Mustafa and his colleagues venture deeper into the unsettling world of terrorism, politics, and espionage, they are confronted with questions without any rational answers, and the terrifying possibility that their world is not what it seems.

Acclaimed novelist Matt Ruff has created a shadow world that is eerily recognizable but, at the same time, almost unimaginable. Gripping, subversive, and unexpectedly moving, The Mirage probes our deepest convictions and most arresting fears.

Publisher: New York : Harper, c2012
ISBN: 9780061976223
Branch Call Number: RUFF
Characteristics: 414 p. ; 22 cm

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SCL_Justin Jul 20, 2017

Matt Ruff’s alternate history novel The Mirage is about a world where the United Arabian States are the global superpower, America is a factionalized bunch of small countries with dysfunctional despots in charge (including LBJ in America and the Bush clan in Texas) and Israel is in Berlin, far fr... Read More »


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SCL_Justin Jul 20, 2017

Matt Ruff’s alternate history novel The Mirage is about a world where the United Arabian States are the global superpower, America is a factionalized bunch of small countries with dysfunctional despots in charge (including LBJ in America and the Bush clan in Texas) and Israel is in Berlin, far from the Holy Land. The idea is that back on 11/9/2001 Rocky Mountain extremists flew planes into a couple of towers in Baghdad and the UAS launched a War on Terror. It’s an interesting world and a lot of the fun in reading the book comes from the exposition handled through pages from the Library of Alexandria, the user-driven encyclopedia.

Plot-wise we’re following a couple of Homeland Security cops from Baghdad who are investigating some Christian extremist attacks and come to think there’s another topsy-turvy world out there where America is the superpower. Senator Bin Laden wants something out of that other world, and is trying to use our hero cops to get it. The plot isn’t the point here except as a vehicle for the setting.

My main gripe with the book is that the characters seem a bit too willing to believe they’re in an unreal reality. Otherwise it’s a fun puzzle to read through as you see Lebanon as the UAS’ version of California, and Britain as the Iran-analogue. It feels different, less science fictional and more Tom Clancy/fantasy-ish than The Years of Rice and Salt, but they have a number of similarities. Good book and a light read.

h
helenhag1217
Jul 11, 2012

I loved this book! Matt Ruff imagines complete worlds that just suck you in. The reverse perspective of this novel entranced me completely.

d
derekwolfgram
Jan 06, 2012

Taking an interesting perspective on the "war on terror," Matt Ruff turns the events of 9/11 on their head, setting The Mirage in the United Arab States, where the population is still struggling to deal with the aftereffects of a devastating 11/9/01 terrorist attack by Christian fundamentalists in hijacked jets. While the premise is intriguing, and several of the characters are memorable, the novel is ultimately dragged down by too many jokey parallels and references highlighting various real American political figures and situations. The constant name-dropping, paired with dozens of interspersed "entries" from The Library of Alexandria, a fictionalized Wikipedia, to provide background information, ultimately detract from the storytelling. While The Mirage is nowhere near as masterful as Sewer, Gas, Electric or Set This House in Order, Matt Ruff is still one of the most interesting novelists writing today, and I look forward to his next book.

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helenhag1217
Jul 11, 2012

helenhag1217 thinks this title is suitable for 15 years and over

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helenhag1217
Jul 11, 2012

What if the Arab world was a collection of civilized but contentious states, and the US was a collection o feuding fiefdoms and countries? What happens when the Christian terrorists fly planes into the twin towers in Bagdad? And what is the Mirage?

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