An Irish-Arab war correspondent named Rita finds herself unprepared for confronting the U.S. invasion of Iraq, which brings personal betrayal and the horrors of conflict that force her and her interpreter Nabil out of the country and into twisting, uncertain fates. What lies in wait will upend their lives forever, shattering their own notions of what they're entitled to in a grossly unjust world.
Correspondents is a hefty, multi-generational saga ... Nabil is a subtly drawn and engaging character who is condemned, like thousands of similar well-educated, middle-class Iraqis, to almost unendurable tragedy. The moral centre of the novel, however, is the manifestly flawed Rita, whose narrative arc in many respects mirrors that of the US invasion itself, founded on an aggressively idealistic yet ultimately false set of assumptions about a region and its people ... it’s clear that what Murphy understands best is the obsessive mindset of an unrepentant deadline-junkie[.]
... fast-paced ... Murphy draws his characters with warmth and compassion, emphasizing their deep love for family ... The geopolitical dramas of the early 2000s and the actions in the Middle East by American leaders make the book even more relevant to present-day realities. But the novel's true strength is its cast of vivid, flawed, deeply human characters, who struggle and make mistakes, and do their best to work for good in uncertain, even dangerous, times.
... having snared his readers, Murphy makes them wait several hundred pages before resuming the party and revealing the destructive agenda of its gatecrasher.
Such a strategy is not easy for the author to pull off. Fortunately, what unfolds between Murphy’s provocative opener and shock denouement is deeply immersive and intensely powerful ... Murphy’s sharply realised focus is the effects of war, migration and refugeehood on people ... Correspondents is an expansive, multigenerational epic, rich in empathy and insight ... The long, detailed sections that shadow Rita in Lebanon and Iraq are by far the most compelling. Rita is rendered vividly alive in those pages and her exploits and observations read like a blend of carefully controlled drama and well-crafted reportage. These sections are so captivating that Murphy’s later, closing chapters in the US resemble a tacked-on coda rather than a topped-and-tailed conclusion ... As with many long stories, Correspondents is flabby in places. Some scenes drag on and one or two characters outstay their welcome. But for the most part, Murphy keeps everything in proportion, right down to Rita’s succinct point about the Iraq war.