Debut velist James Mullaney creates an intensely realistic tale of life under a brutal regime in the vein of Khaled Hosseini's The Kite Runner. Over the course of just a few days during the Iran-Iraq war, The Ministry of Culture chronicles the parallel lives of two men: One, an American journalist, is facing up to the seemingly relentless cycle of war in Iraq. The other, a young Iraqi painter, finds his talents hijacked by the government's propaganda machine as he is forced to paint the ermous murals of Saddam that omiusly appear throughout Baghdad. The Ministry of Culture is a compelling, sometimes unsetting look at the history of Iraqi politics, the responsibility of Western governments for the direction that history has taken, and the universal question of how much a person can endure - and what is art's worth - in a culture of endlessly recurring violence.
JAMES P. MULLANEY lives on Long Island. He is a graduate of Providence College. This is his first novel.