In Dark Diversions, Canada’s leading public intellectual, John Ralston Saul stages a black comedy of international proportions that takes the reader from New York to Paris to Morocco to Haiti. When he’s not encountering dictators in Third World hot spots, Saul’s narrator moves in privileged circles on both sides of the Atlantic, insinuating himself into the lives of well-to-do aristocrats. Through his exploits, we experience a fascinating world of secret lovers, exiled princesses, death by veganism, and religious heresies. The emotional fireworks of these inhabitants of the First World are sharply juxtaposed with the political infighting of the dictators and the corruption, double-dealing and fawning that attend them. But as he becomes further enmeshed in these worlds, the outsider status of the narrator grows more ambiguous: Is he a documentarian of privileged foibles and fundamental inequity, or an embodiment of the very “dark diversions” he chronicles?
Join the president of PEN International for a taste of the novel and a conversation on the role of fiction in getting to the truth.