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Sons of the Rumour is nothing short of a dazzling and genre-defying work of genius. Foster retells the tale of the legendary eighth-century King Shahrban of Persia who, furious at his wife's infidelity, has decided to marry and then behead a fresh virgin every day. But then the king meets Scheherazade, a beauty of such wiles and storytelling gifts she manages to entertain the him for 1001 nights, staving off death for both herself and her countrywomen. In the process, she also bears him three sons, wisely educates him in morality and kindness, and eventually convinces him to take her as his lawful wife.
Intersecting with the historical tale is the story of Al Morrisey - a middle-aged, Anglo-Irish, former jazz-drumming everyman, on the run from a failed marriage, and cursed with Freudian daydreams of his mother and peculiar nightmares of all things Persian - as he vainly attempts to reconcile the past with the present and reclaim some of his youthful vigour.
Ingeniously manipulating the frame tale of the Arabian Nights, and utilising all his narrative gifts of adventurous satire, David Foster has produced a work of fiction like no other. Sprawling, ambitious, explicit but frequently hilarious, Sons of the Rumour is a modern masterpiece, an utterly original novel by one of Australia's greatest living writers, a man who the Sydney Morning Herald critic Andrew Riemer has called Patrick White's worthy successor.
- Pan Macmillan Australia, November 2009
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