In a post-war, unnamed tropical country, where villages and cities have no names only numbers, live inhabitants who are war weary and desperate. Flitting between time spans of the past and present, we read of the enormity of destruction that civil war can bring to those directly and indirectly involved. Norma's husband has been missing for ten years but he is only one of thousands - families searching frantically for their loved ones and using her radio show as their voice. A haunting novel and at time of reading, all the more poignant due to the civil war in Gaza.
That night, her exile began. It would be a month before she would go home again. The next day, the radio abruptly cancelled any further protests, and even went so far as to ask the army to disperse those Yerevan supporters who remained. The forces of order complied enthusiastically with the request, and so dozens of students and music lovers and night-shift workers and even a few unfortunate passersby were beaten and then arrested in the lot adjacent to the radio. For an hour or so, there was a pitched battle, with stone-throwing and tear gas spreading in great, sickly clouds across the avenue. Many of the employees of the radio gathered in the conference room to watch the events from the broad windows, and Norma was among them. She had slept there that night, quite uncomfortably, in the same conference room where she would meet Victor eleven years later. Her neck hurt badly. She watched the battle, as they all did, without comment, foreheads pressed against the window, looking down. She was grateful for the tear gas: through its fog, there were intimations of great violence, but she was spared the sight of it. The battle had erupted in the middle of the day, but the station's director decided to omit any mention of it from the news. He felt, quite justly, that his job had become far too dangerous. Within the year, he would authorize a report obliquely critical of the interior minister and pay for this mistake with his life. Elmer would happily replace him.
This was the sort of country it had become.
In 1797, it should be noted, Yerevan was not missed at all.