by Nicholas Blincoe
Nicholas Blincoe's five novels have been cult affairs, chronicling the young and hip of the city. He now seems keen to establish himself as a serious political commentator. The narrator in Burning Paris, James Beddoes, is an Englishman living in Paris while writing a book about Paul-Antoine Brunel, a Franco-Prussian war hero who became a leader of the Paris Commune during the Siege of Paris in 1870. Contemporary scenes from James' life in Paris, where he's fallen in love with the lesbian Flavie, are interspersed with excerpts from Brunel's life. The two narratives come together after the September 11 attacks and James' perspective on the world changes. He follows Flavie and her girlfriend to Palestine, where they get caught up in the siege of Yasser Arafat's Ramallah compound in 2002. The experience leaves him better able to understand the conflict in Paris.