Mercy by Lara Santoro

July 15, 2007

My cousin’s book Mercy is now available as pre-order on Amazon.

From my aunt (her mother):

    ANNA, AN ITALIAN-BORN JOURNALIST BASED IN KENYA, is drinking too much and missing her deadlines. One day, she is ambushed by a large, flamboyantly dressed African woman, Mercy, who talks herself into a job as Anna’s housemaid. Soon Mercy is organizing interviews for Anna in Nairobi’s worst slum and establishing much-needed order in the journalist’s disheveled life. While tension and misunderstanding punctuate Anna and Mercy’s developing relationship, the two women establish a genuine connection that will give each the courage to battle illness, injustice, and loss.

LARA SANTORO was born in Rome and educated in the US and France. A veteran journalist who has worked for the Christian Science Monitor and Newsweek, Santoro has traveled extensively, covering wars, famines, and every major aspect of the AIDS epidemic. Mercy is her first novel. She divides her time between Ranchos de Taos, New Mexico, and Boston, Massachusetts.

From Publisher’s Weekly:

Anna, the Italian-born, Nairobi-based war correspondent and narrator of veteran journalist Santoro’s affecting debut novel, is fast succumbing to the pain and riot of burned, bloodied Africa. Excessively drinking, keeping two lovers—one, a fellow journalist; the other, the owner of a coffee plantation—and delaying assignments while pleading with her editor for a bureau transfer, she seems hell-bent on self-annihilation when Mercy, a local giantess miraculously squeezed into a pink halter-top and fake patent-leather pants, persuades Anna to give her a job as house girl. Mercy becomes indispensable to Anna, pushing her to give up alcohol and meet her deadlines and introducing Anna to Father Anselmo, an Italian priest who lives in and administers to the AIDS-wracked slum of Korogocho. But it is only after Anna learns that Mercy has AIDS that the full measure of the women’s connection to and effect upon each other comes full circle. Santoro, who has covered the African AIDS epidemic, evokes the continent’s everyday horrors and uncommon moments of grace in decidedly unsentimental prose, and her depiction of international journalists’ lifestyles is similarly powerful. Though the subtleties that make the first half of the book sublime become heavy-handed later on, the characters and their complicated relationships remain stirring until the end.



  1. Wow it sounds like an amazing book! I am heading to Amazon to pre-order it now. Congratulations to your cousin on getting published! Sounds like she has had an interesting life and experience as a journalist.

  2. That is just so cool. It sounds like a really good plot as well! Unfortunately I just don’t have time anymore to read great big novels. I miss great big novels! 🙂

  3. I remember you posting about this a while back, and I’m glad you put it up again. I’m off to pre-order, too…

  4. Zahra – I will send your congrats Lara’s way. 🙂

    Carla – I miss great big novels too! I will make time for this book though. P.S. I haven’t finished a book since my son was born nearly six years ago…

    Angela – I’ll give it all the publicity it deserves. 🙂

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