At the birth of Radar Radmanovic, all of the hospital electricity mysteriously fails. When the lights are turned on again, the staff is startled to see the healthy baby boy--with unusually black skin--born to the two stunned Caucasian parents. Despite the father’s joy at the successful delivery, it is the mother, Charlene, who bears the brunt of the gossip and speculation, and who becomes overwhelmed with her need to ‘fix’ the skin color of her beloved Radar. Though Charlene has her own problems following the birth--including a newly heightened but crippling sense of smell--she receives no help from the hospital staff. “A childbirth is an explosion,” the ancient physician says by way of explanation. “Some shrapnel is inevitable, isn’t it?”
Just what was born in the long explosion of the Twentieth Century? In the shrapnel of propaganda and colonialism, genocide and racism, the characters of I Am Radar hunt in the rubble for what life can still be salvaged. Following a secret society of puppeteers and scientists who perform experimental art in the midst of violent conflict, I Am Radar is a triumph of pure storytelling, a testement to the liberating powers of the imagination.
In the civil wars of Yugoslavia, two brothers walk shockingly different paths: one into the rapacious paramilitary forces terrorizing the countryside, the other into the world of avant-garde puppetry in beseiged Belgrade. In Norway during the Second World War, a group of resistance schoolteachers defy the German occupiers by stealing radioactive material from a secret Nazi nuclear reactor--to stage a dramatic art performance, with no witnesses, deep in the Arctic circle. In the years before Cambodia’s murderous Khymer Rouge regime, an expatriate French landowner adopts an abandoned native child and creates a life-long scientific experiment of his new son's education in physics. In the modern-day Congo, a disfigured literature professor assembles the world’s largest library--composed of perfect, interlocking hexagons hidden within the jungle--in the futile hope that the books will somehow cement a peace in the war-torn country. And through all these stories walks Radar Radmanovic, a gifted radio operator from the New Jersey Meadowlands--an epileptic with a strange past, an uncanny ability to communicate with machines, and all too ordinary white skin.
Written by acclaimed novelist Reif Larsen--the author of The Selected Works of T.S. Spivet, soon to be a major motion picture--I Am Radar displays the same measures of charm and empathy, tragic circumstance and original dialogue for which Larsen’s last work was praised. A sophisticated but addictive reading experience that draws on the farthest reaches of quantum physics, forgotten history, and performance art, I Am Radar is a novel somehow greater than all of its parts, a breath-taking and unparalleled joyride through the worst that humanity has to offer only to arrive at a place of shocking wonder and redemption.