Liverpool When he attended Cicero-North Syracuse High School, Christopher Hebert cared more about the sports page than the opinion page.
“My after-school activities were sports, not debate club,” he wrote in a recent blog on his website. “If I looked at the newspaper, it was to study box scores. In this I was no different from any of the rest of my friends.”
The author of a compelling debut novel called “The Boiling Season,” Hebert clearly demonstrates that his thinking has changed dramatically. In fact, he’s obsessed with what he calls “political aversion,” the condition that plagued his youth.
After spending time in Guatemala and reading books about countries such as Ghana and Chilé and Haiti, Hebert deduced “that maybe political aversion isn’t limited to our shores after all.”
Like a lot of self-consumed suburban kids, Hebert’s political awakening came at college. There, he became aware of the epidemic of voter apathy across the U.S. And he learned about “the situation in Haiti, where in 1987, daring to vote could get a person killed, and where people persisted in doing it anyway”
The more he read about Haiti, he remembers, “the more I came to believe that conceiving of such a world is one of the most important things literature can do. And I realized that some of my favorite novels, the ones to which I felt the greatest affinity, were concerned with politically averse individuals caught in the middle of similarly fraught political situations.”
Peter Ho David, author of “The Welsh Girl,” thinks Hebert nailed it. He called “The Boiling Season” “a beguiling political novel played out on an intimate scale.”
A real page-turner
Set in Haiti on the equatorial Caribbean island of Hispaniola, “The Boiling Season” revolves around 19-year-old Alexandre who rises from gang-controlled slums to a job as valet to an influential senator. Rather than scale a social ladder in the nation’s capital, Alexandre escapes to the mountains working as a caretaker at a derelict estate being developed by a rich American businesswoman. His sanctuary is brief.