The Optimists

Patty Osborne

I still can’t figure out why the cover of The Optimists, a novel by Andrew Miller (Sceptre), is covered with blue butterflies when the story is about atrocities committed under the orders of an African politician. Clem Glass is a photographer who documents the aftermath of a massacre in Africa and then returns to his home in London to recover from the horror. Nothing means much to Clem any more, but he does hold on to his anger at the man he considers responsible, and when he gets a chance to find and confront the target of his anger (who is hiding in Belgium) he struggles to see the monster inside the ordinary man. Clem learns that pinning something on one individual will do little to contribute to global justice. Here in the West we like to think that everything bad is somebody else’s fault; this book subverts that notion and that’s why I liked it.

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