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The Snake and the Condor

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Santiago, Chile, at the height of Pinochet's reign of terror. Julieta, the daughter of a senior government official, is to be married to the army officer of her father's choice. She attempts to escape with the boy she loves to the Peruvian Andes, but her father's tentacles reach across South America and even as far as England. The young lovers long to live in peace and set up a school and medical centre in Bolivia but are caught up in a series of gripping adventures and narrow escapes. They are helped by a courageous priest, whose mission is to save former Allende supporters from the prisons, torture chambers and executions of the military régime.

The Snake and the Condor The Snake and the Condor was published in June 2015 in paperback (ISBN 978-1-78279-731-9) and as an

e-book (ISBN 978-1-78279-730-2) by John Hunt Publishing under the Roundfire imprint: www.johnhuntpublishing.com.

The Snake and the Condor is more than a retelling of one of the great love stories of world literature. It also studies the cruel effects of colonization, forced conversion and economic exploitation on non-European civilizations. It compares Christian beliefs and values with those of indigenous South Americans. It evokes the fear, suspicion and uncertainty on which tyranny and dictatorship thrive and suggests that, in spite of Western claims, true democracy may be more at home in some of the older societies of South America. Even Thatcher and the Falklands War fall within the political scope of a story that is also a spiritual and intellectual adventure.

'From the very first lines the standard is set and the reader is at Southam's beck and call,' Hayley Broad wrote in an article on the author's work for a leading literary review. 'His powers of description are at points so strong that they are disturbing. Southam creates characters that are believable, subtle, and often deeply comic, while consistently providing room for political reflection.'

'Profoundly rich and transporting,' Dr Andrea Ashworth, book reviewer and author of the bestseller Once in a House on Fire, wrote in a pre-publication review of The Snake and the Condor. 'This beautiful book plunged me into another world. From the first page I knew I was in the hands of a seriously good storyteller - every scene vivid, brimming full of life. Robert Southam writes with passion and poise and humour, touching on the darkest reaches of the human soul, but always quick to soar with joy and relish for the world's good things. He is one of those generous writers who makes the reader feel more alive.'

Paul Simon wrote in a pre-publication review for The Morning Star: 'Set against the brutality of the Pinochet régime in Chile, Robert Southam's vertiginous tale of the flight of two lovers from across the racial and class divide follows the fortunes of Julieta and Mawi as they criss-cross through that country, Bolivia and Peru and then on to London, keeping just ahead of their pursuers. En route we get to see the devastation wrought on individuals and communities, especially indigenous ones, by unbridled capitalism and its militaristic allies. Southam manages the pace of the novel skilfully, combining hairpin-bend plot twists with detailed, almost ethnographic descriptions of the communities through which the couple pass. The author writes with a tingling, heart-pounding tenderness of the lovers' growing awareness of and feelings for each other as they resist oppression and uncertainty together. The narrative and the detailed scenes through which it develops make this a compelling and emotional experience.'

Aïsha's Jihad

Aïsha’s Jihad

A major Western power and its allies are threatening to invade a Middle Eastern country, without the sanction of the United Nations. In an English country town a teenage brother and sister, refugees since early childhood from Palestine, live with their mother below the poverty line and struggle for social acceptance and an education that will allow their talents to flower. The bombs start to fall. Ali and Aïsha demand to know about the outrages to their father and grandparents that drove their mother from Palestine. The crisis polarizes the passions of the two teenagers: one turns to peace, the other to a more desperate solution.

The violence of war and the more subtle violence of unequal educational opportunities at home are ingeniously interwoven in this novel full of poignancy and humour, in which we see how the decisions of leaders at national and international level can influence personal relationships and individual lives.

Aïsha's Jihad received enthusiastic notices in England, Scotland, Switzerland and France, and on BBC Radio. The novel is as relevant today as when it was written. It has been enjoyed not only by adults but also by younger readers, who identify with the teenage protagonists: it was chosen as a set book for sixth forms in Switzerland and has been widely read at schools and universities in Britain, France, Italy and Spain.

Aïsha's Jihad is published by fm Books as a paperback (ISBN 978-0-9545038-2-6) and as a recording, read by the author (ISBN 978-0-9545038-3-3). Both can be ordered in bookshops or direct from the publishers: www.fmoxford.co.uk