World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

The Mission Song

Article Id: WHEBN0008786381
Reproduction Date:

Title: The Mission Song  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: John le Carré, Control (fictional character), Connie Sachs, A Delicate Truth, A Perfect Spy (TV series)
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

The Mission Song

The Mission Song
First UK edition
Author John le Carré
Genre thriller/espionage novel
Published 2006
Hodder & Stoughton (UK)
Little, Brown, US
Media type Print
Pages 352
Preceded by Absolute Friends (2003)
Followed by A Most Wanted Man (2008)

The Mission Song is a thriller/espionage novel by John le Carré, published in October 2006. Set against the background of the chaotic East Congo, the story involves the planning of a Western-backed coup in the province of Kivu, told from the worm's-eye view of the hapless interpreter. Although the events are fictional, the book evokes a rich and detailed picture of the political and racial tensions of the region, highlighting the greed and amorality of local bureaucrats and Western interests, and calling attention to the apathy of the British press about the continuing humanitarian crisis of the Congo War.

Plot summary

Bruno Salvador, known as Salvo, is the orphaned, illegitimate son of an Irish Catholic missionary and a native Congolese woman. He is educated in England, and as a fluent speaker and aficionado of "disappearing indigenous languages of Eastern Congo",[1] he finds a natural calling as a specialist interpreter, employed by London's hospitals, law courts, city corporations, and British intelligence.

Bruno has a passionate extramarital affair with a Congolese nurse, Hannah. En route from a rendezvous with Hannah to a party thrown for his journalist wife, he is offered an urgent job by his handler at the Ministry of Defence to serve as an interpreter at a conference between Congolese warlords and their putative Western backers, the nameless "Syndicate". He learns that their objective is to eject Kivu's Rwandan occupiers and install a liberal, benevolent politician dubbed "the Mwangaza" as the head.

Whisked to a nameless island in the North Sea, Salvo is set to his task. As well as interpreting at the conference, he must also decipher recordings from hidden microphones festooning the island. Unbeknownst to his employers, Salvo listens in while one of the Congolese delegates, who has shown signs of defecting from the agreement, is tortured by his employers. It becomes apparent that the Syndicate's real objective is to plunder the coltan and other mineral wealth of Kivu, and the Mwangaza is no more than a puppet. At the end of the conference, Salvo pockets the tapes and his notes before returning to London.

Bruno attempts, with Hannah's help, to alert the authorities and the press and prevent the coup. Ultimately, the plot fails anyway, and Bruno is arrested and stripped of his British citizenship. At the end of the novel Salvo languishes in a holding facility for asylum seekers, awaiting his deportation to the Congo where he will be reunited with Hannah.

Critical reception

The book received positive reviews from critics. The review aggregator Metacritic reported the book had an average score of 63 out of 100, based on 25 reviews.[2] The Mission Song was featured on BBC Radio 4's Book at Bedtime programme from October 2 to October 13 of 2006, read by Paterson Joseph. David Oyelowo narrates the 2007 audiobook for The Mission Song. Of his performance, AudioFile magazine states, "Think of David Oyelowo as a single musician playing all the instruments in a symphony. That is essentially what he manages in this inspired performance of John le Carré's suspense novel... Can it really have been only one man in the narrator's recording booth? This virtuoso performance makes that seem impossible."[3]


  1. ^ "New York Arts - NYC Entertainment News - NY Daily News".  
  2. ^ "The Mission Song by John le Carre: Reviews".  
  3. ^ "AudioFile audiobook review: The Mission Song By John le Carré, Read by David Oyelowo".  

External links

  • "John le Carré's allegiances": a review in the TLS by Michael Saler, September 2006
  • Reviews
This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from Project Gutenberg are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.