The White Mary: A Novel (Paperback)

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Staff Reviews

The White Mary is a powerful novel. Evocative of Heart of Darkness, it is a page-turning adventure novel, suffused with romance and tragedy. Barely escaping from the battlefield of Congo, journalist Marika finds herself unable to reconcile the atrocities she has witnessed around the world with contemporary life in the United States. Instead, she follows the whisper of a rumor that her hero, war correspondent Robert Lewis, has not committed suicide, but is hiding in the wilds of Papua New Guinea. Marika’s dangerous trek ranks with the best fictional quests for hope and truth.

— Sara, Atlanta


Marika Vecera is a young war reporter, recently back from the Congo and venturing into the first serious relationship of her life, when she hears the news that Robert Lewis has committed suicide. Lewis was a famous war correspondent and a hero to Marika, and as she begins working on his biography she gets word from a missionary who claims to have seen Lewis alive. Astounded, Marika uproots her life in Boston and heads to Papua New Guinea--the world's least explored frontier--to uncover the truth. Encountering all the dangers of jungle travel and the haunting mythology of native tribes, Marika's search for Lewis becomes an unforgettable journey into the depths of the human soul.

About the Author

Kira Salak has won the PEN award for journalism and appeared five times in Best American Travel Writing. She is a contributing editor for National Geographic Adventure magazine and was the first woman to traverse Papua New Guinea; her nonfiction account of that trip, Four Corners, was a New York Times Notable Book of 2001. Her fiction has appeared in Best New American Voices and other publications.

Praise For…

“Harrowing . . . Salak's descriptions of the jungle passage are compelling and dreamlike.” —The Washington Post

“Keenly observed . . . As Vecera cuts her way through swamps and forests, encountering insects, snakes and the native population along the way, you'll think of the travails of Katharine Hepburn in The African Queen.” —USA Today

“There aren't many books that we hand to friends, urging, 'You have to read this.' The White Mary is one of them.” —The Plain Dealer (Cleveland)

“Salak's descriptions of the sights, sounds, and smells of the jungle, with its brutal chieftains and servile women, brings the story to life with all of its horrors and satisfactions.” —St. Louis Post-Dispatch

Product Details
ISBN: 9780312429041
ISBN-10: 0312429045
Publisher: Picador
Publication Date: September 1st, 2009
Pages: 368
Language: English