Waiting for the Electricity

Resourceful and optimistic, Slims Achmed Makashvili is everything a man in the Republic of Georgia is supposed to be. And everyone knows that Georgia is the finest country in the world. So why has it been months since Slims received a paycheck at his job? Why did he let the woman he was supposed to marry get away? Why won't the lights turn on when he flips the switch? Fearless and undaunted, Slims does the only reasonable thing he can think of to help his country: he writes to Hillary Clinton. Winning sponsorship from her small business internship program would allow Slims to import the American dream to Georgia. He could start a Black Sea Spiny Dogfish packaging plant, or maybe a Georgian sheep cheese business. Then again, if Hillary can't help him, he could always just kidnap a British oil pipeline specialist.

Christina Nichol reins in her deliciously wild debut novel by creating unusual and fleshed-out characters who carry the weight of the fraught reality they inhabit. She balances the dry wit of preposterous folk wisdom ("Show me a man with his feet planted firmly on the ground, and I will show you a man who can't put on his trousers") with sensitive insight into the political realities of post-Soviet Georgia. In Nichol's able hands, Slims is a wise, philosophical hero attuned to the ambiguous nature of progress--for nations as well as individuals. "The problem is the word love," he tells us, "which sometimes means something stupid, and sometimes means the purpose of life." --Casey O'Neil, bookseller, Elliott Bay Book Company

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