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Lawrence Osborne’s The Forgiven is haunting tale of a deadly accident and its reverberations for a group of expat “infidels” in the Moroccan desert.

The acclaimed author of American Normal, The Accidental Connoisseur, Bangkok Days and The Naked Tourist offers a chilling and incisive examination of cultural tension in modern global society.

Lawrence Osborne’s The Forgiven is haunting tale of a deadly accident and its reverberations for a group of expat “infidels” in the Moroccan desert.

The Forgiven: A Novel

Lawrence Osborne
  • Imprint: Hogarth
  • On sale: September 25, 2012
  • Price: $25.00
  • Pages: 288
  • ISBN: 9780307889034
Contact: Dyana Messina

Advance Praise for THE FORGIVEN

“With nods to Paul Bowles and Evelyn Waugh, Osborne portrays the vacuity of high society as gorgeously and incisively as he does the unease of cultures thrust together in the unforgiving desert.”

Publishers Weekly (starred review) 

“Osborne comes up with an ending that’s at the same time ironic, surprising, and completely fitting. A gripping read with moral ambiguity galore.”

Kirkus Reviews (starred review) 

“No mere imitation but a contribution to the shelf on which The Sheltering Sky and The Bonfire of the Vanities also sit, The Forgiven explores the clash of two cultures, each of which feels superior to the other.  Osborne’s writing is uncomfortably well observed; his story is sickeningly, addictively headlong.”

—Lionel Shriver, author of We Need to Talk About Kevin 

The Forgiven shines darkly with a rich and mordant fatalism. Osborne’s characters emerge like people in a dream—diamond sharp but fascinatingly askew. His prose is gorgeous and precise; the story slices keenly through the exotic haze of its setting. It’s an absolutely brilliant novel—the ending is a shock in the best way.”

—Kate Christensen, author of The Epicure’s Lament and The Astral 

“The prose of The Forgiven has a very particular, knowing luminosity, much like the tarnished world it describes.  A beautiful, compelling book to savor line by line.”

                                                                         —Nikita Lalwani, author of Gifted


Lawrence Osborne’s novel, THE FORGIVEN (Hogarth; September 25, 2012), is based loosely on a true story and is set in the fossil-mining desert towns of the Moroccan Sahara, at the far edges of civilization. It’s a remote and dangerous place that Osborne came to know as a wandering journalist and hardened traveler. He lived for some time in the Atlas Mountains and from there voyaged to the eerie mountain of Azemmour and the open quarries of Mirzan, where years later he has set this remarkable novel. Yet this is not at all an adventure story or a piece of exotica; it’s a study in character and the clash of cultures—subtle, gripping, and elegant.

The story opens on a dusty road with Dr. David Henniger and his wife, Jo, on their way to a party. This is no ordinary get-together, however; David and Jo are in Morocco, driving to the remote ksar owned by David’s college friend Richard and his partner Dally, who are known for their bacchanal weekends of luxury and sinful excess. The Hennigers have accepted Richard and Dally’s invitation in a desperate attempt to escape their unhappy marriage and unhappy lives back in London, but their problems have followed them and as David and Jo drive as night falls, the arguments continue. So when two men step out onto the road attempting to sell their fossils, a distracted David doesn’t see them until it’s too late, leaving one dead on the road and the other fleeing into the desert. With no idea what else to do, David and Jo arrive at the ksar with the man’s body in the backseat of their car. While Richard and Dally try to keep news of the accident from their guests and deal with the local police, word of what the “infidels” have done spreads among the local staff. Thus, the stage is set for a series of events that will test everyone’s lives—both figuratively and literally—building to a startling crescendo.

In a style reminiscent of Paul Bowles, Graham Greene, and Evelyn Waugh, Osborne has crafted rich, multi-dimensional characters in THE FORGIVEN, peeling back their facades layer by layer with each turn of the page. He vividly evokes the texture and pace of life in the wild frontier towns of the Sahara, strikingly juxtaposed against the growing tensions among the novel’s players. With its unrelenting intensity and attention to detail, THE FORGIVEN is a seductive example of Osborne’s talents for creating the atmosphere and suspense that bring a story and a place to life for readers.


About the Author

Lawrence Osborne is the author of one previous novel and six books of nonfiction.  His short story “Volcano” was selected for Best American Short Stories 2012, and he has written for the New York Times Magazine, The New Yorker, Newsweek, Harper’s, The Wall Street Journal Magazine, and many other publications.

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