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. …[T]he characters and their complicated relationships remain stirring until the end.
Booklist, Leah Strauss
"Santoro’s experience as a journalist is evident in her straightforward prose…this debut is a notable tale of contemporary forms of suffering and relationships.”
Africa–anguished, impoverished, monstrously beautiful–takes the measure of every novelist daring enough to confront its mysteries. Lara Santoro’s Mercy (Other Press) swirls around a self-immolating Italian-born journalist named Anna, the two wildly attractive men she attracts and deflects, and her self-appointed housekeeper, aforce of nature named Mercy. The urgent message of this gorgeously written novel, which deals head-on with the ravages of AIDS on a continent of grief: Open your eyes and look hard.
Critical Mass (NBCC Blog)
What to Read this Fall: Mercy by Lara Santoro
Santoro has been covering the AIDS pandemic, wars, genocide, famines… Now she’s out with a novel about a hard drinking journalist working in Africa. It has some of the obvious Graham Greene echoes, but that’s never been a bad thing.
Tampa Tribune Online
[Santoro] pens a tightly written first novel with complex characters and a gripping storyline. While a work of fiction, Santoro’s authority comes from personal experience in Africa and her first-hand knowledge of international journalism.
Cleveland Plain Dealer
There’s a great tradition of memorable servants in the world’s literature, from Jeeves in P.G. Wodehouse’s novels to Toundi in "Houseboy" by Ferdinand Oyono. One is tempted to add Lara Santoro’s Mercy to that list….Santoro’s portrayal of her title character is vivid. Along with Father Anselmo, a cantankerous, rather grubby old priest who works in the slums and celebrates as many as three dozen funeral Masses in a week, Mercy powers the novel and keeps the reader reading.
The Advocate (Baton Rouge, LA)
Mercy is clearly a metaphor for Africa itself. She’s big, colorful, full of life and can’t be ignored. Yet she is vulnerable. When she gets sick, her illness becomes a soapbox for Santoro to use to open larger issues…some of the most thought-provoking and moving writing you’ll ever read.
Taos Daily News
A tough and touching novel…Santoro has a gift for language, description, and honesty…Not only does Santoro write well, but she has the guts and commitment to turn the foul effects of disaster capitalism—pharmaceutical piracy—into a story of Mercy. Lara Santoro is the real thing.