Utopian communities don't fare much better in fiction than they do in real life. As the plot usually unfolds, a brave new world loses its luster fast when the failings of its founder are exposed, or when the community itself begins to morph into a cult. Think of Lauren Groff's Arcadia or Carolyn Parkhurst's Harmony, two recent novels that have imagined alternative communities and their inevitable crack-up.
Journalist Neil MacFarquhar is a veteran Middle East foreign correspondent and was Cairo bureau chief for The New York Times. Next, he will cover Islam in North America for the Times. His new novel The Sand Cafe is set in Saudi Arabia and examines the day-to-day reporting life of foreign correspondents in the Middle East during the Gulf War.