Stephen Bottum

In his ambitious debut, The Mayor’s Tongue, Nathaniel Rich offers dual fanciful narratives about the importance of storytelling. Underachiever Eugene ”translates” a pal’s quest manuscript from an incomprehensible language while he pursues a biographer’s daughter. She’s researching Eugene’s literary hero, Eakins, which leads her to absurdist heaven: an Italian town populated by Eakins’ fictional characters, who call Eakins ”the Mayor.” Meanwhile, two aged WWII veterans part ways in Manhattan and reunite in Milan.

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