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The Unfinished Life of N.

The Unfinished Life of N.
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Wiseblood Books, paperback, 200 pages.

In the tradition of Flannery O'Connor, The Unfinished Life of N. scrutinizes the quiet ambitions of normal people and their everyday fictions concerning others' and their own humanity and goodness.  Nafula, the innocent but not naïve protagonist, travels from the backwoods of Wisconsin to AIDS-stricken regions in Africa, and finally through a rehabilitation program at a Mental Health home. Granddaughter of a local-celebrity preacher whose church-without-a-church religion plays a large part in propelling her into a "missionary" existence (as does that same grandfather's sexual abuse), Nafula soon finds that the work in Africa confounds her self-identification as a “helper.”

In the novel's final turn, Nafula must reckon with the terrible speed of mercy.

A Brief Review

“How many worlds are there?” asks Nafula, the protagonist of Micah Cawber’s fine new novel, The Unfinished Life of N. "Three", responds her mother, adamant about the much belabored division between First and Third Worlds. Nafula, "she who comes with the rain," is a woman whose life has been wrenched from the machinery through which all our lives must turn. After traveling from Wisconsin to Africa and back, Nafula is able to see what we, who are so deeply invested in that machinery, are unable to see:  the world of “the information orgy” that is contemporary living. The Unfinished Life of N. is the kind of fiction described by Chesterton as a necessity -- necessary because it reveals what is beautiful and true in the world.

Nafula continues her line of questioning: "Where does one world end and the other begin?" While it is easy to respond in the geopolitical terms by which the question is framed, the possibility for a much greater awareness is at stake. There are, for example, public worlds and private worlds, but they are all part of the one world we all share, through which all our other worlds are made. Cawber, through Nafula, is able to help us see these worlds anew.   Read this book, and understand again "the wrestle of body and word" by which real meaning might be made of our lives.

 -- Brian Jobe, author of Bird's Nest in Your Hair

Wiseblood Books is a new publishing line particularly favorable toward works of fiction, poetry, and philosophy that render truths with what Flannery O'Connor called an unyielding "realism of distances." Such works find redemption in uncanny places and people; wrestle us from the tyranny of boredom; mock the pretensions of respectability; engage the hidden mysteries of the human heart, be they sources of either violence or courage; articulate faith and doubt in their incarnate complexity; dare an unflinching gaze at human beings as "political animals"; and suffer through this world's trials without forfeiting hope.  They reprint classic works of literature, philosophy, and devotion, and also edit/publish new works by contemporary authors.  The Unfinished Life of N. is Wiseblood's first new novel, released October 1, 2013.
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