The Mirage: A Novel (Paperback)
February 2012 Indie Next List
“Here's another page-turning, mind-reeling masterpiece by Ruff. Imagine a world where the United Arab States is threatened by Christian fundamentalist terrorists, a world where a few good Homeland Security Agents have to fight corruption and conspiracies to protect all they believe in. I predict this is the novel that everyone will be talking about in 2012. And it's not just provocative, it's a darn good read!”
— Tegan Tigani, Queen Anne Books, Seattle, WA
11/9/2001: Christian fundamentalists hijackfour jetliners. They fly two into theTigris & Euphrates World Trade Towersin Baghdad, and a third into the ArabDefense Ministry in Riyadh. The fourthplane, believed to be bound for Mecca, isbrought down by its passengers. The UnitedArab States declares a War on Terror. Arabianand Persian troops invade the EasternSeaboard and establish a Green Zone inWashington, D.C. . . .
Summer, 2009: Arab Homeland Securityagent Mustafa al Baghdadi interrogatesa captured suicide bomber. The prisonerclaims that the world they are living in isa mirage—in the real world, America is asuperpower, and the Arab states are just acollection of "backward third-world countries."Other captured terrorists have beentelling the same story.
The gangster Saddam Hussein is conductinghis own investigation. And the headof the Senate Intelligence Committee—awar hero named Osama bin Laden—willstop at nothing to hide the truth. As Mustafaand his colleagues venture deeper into theunsettling world of terrorism, politics, andespionage, they are confronted with questionswithout any rational answers, andthe terrifying possibility that their world isnot what it seems.
“A unique and compelling read.”
“Like Philip Roth’s The Plot Against America, the premise behind Ruff’s alternate-history novel is chilling.”
“An unnerving but intriguing premise forms the backbone of Matt Ruff’s latest novel, The Mirage, one of the most daring 9/11-inspired novels to emerge after that horrific day
“Ruff embraces his twisty concept with an attention to detail that suggests many months, more likely years, of fervent research. . . . He is a world-class world builder who, perhaps better than any other writer, can create exotic, mysterious worlds and communicate their unique rules and consistent logics.”
“A funhouse-mirror mash-up where H.G. Wells and Graham Greene collide with The Arabian Nights and The Matrix. . . . Ruff dizzies and dazzles the reader with a fantastic-and fantastical-story.”
“Sci-fi/fantasy/post-cyberpunk cult author Matt Ruff imagines an alternate world in which Arabia becomes the earth’s dominant superpower and America is a dictator-led, fundamentalist backwater. More than half the fun here comes from discovering all of the intricately clever consequences Ruff derives from that simple premise.”
“The alt-historical framework is in many ways the best and most entertaining part of the book, and you want it to expand beyond the mere 400 pages of The Mirage.”
“Furious entertainment. . . . It echoes Michael Chabon’s The Yiddish Policeman’s Union or Steven Barnes’s Lion’s Blood, but more comparisons will be made to Philip K. Dick’s World War II reimagining The Man in the High Castle.”
“If you amalgamated the methodical, punctilious, world-building skills of Ian McDonald with the reality-distortion powers of Philip K. Dick and then folded in the satirical, take-no-prisoners savagery of Norman Spinrad, you might be able to produce a book approximating The Mirage.”
“That The Mirage shares DNA with airport-kiosk genre exercises is nothing to be ashamed of. A good thriller is hard to pull off. The ingredients are clear enough: propulsive action, sympathetic characterization, and enough detail to ground the story without slowing things down.”
“This book quite successfully challenges the ideas of Christian moral supremacy and the unchallenged political agenda of superpowers. It is a deeply satisfying novel which excites hopes of a long and productive career for this young writer.”
“The Mirage is an intriguing addition to the genre . .. . Ruff spices up his tale with a wealth of arresting details. . . . Ruff keeps you reading, [out of] eagerness to see what twist he’ll think of next.”
“An audacious new novel. . . . . The Mirage is a topsy-turvy tour de force, another winner from a truly inventive and unpredictable storyteller.”