"The Middleman" is the title story in Bharati Mukherjee's collection, The Middleman and Other Stories (1988). Told by an Iraqi Jew who is a naturalized American citizen, it is set in an unnamed Central American country in the throes of a guerrilla insurgency. The idea for the story came to Mukherjee when she was writing an incomplete novel about a Vietnam veteran who becomes a mercenary soldier in Afghanistan and Central America. The novel featured a minor character named Alfie Judah, a Jew who had relocated from Baghdad to New York, via Bombay, India. Alfie became such a strong presence in the writer's mind that, as she reported in an interview with Alison B. Carb in Massachusetts Review, he "took control and wrote his own story." "The Middleman," then, is the story of Alfie, a cynical man who "travels around the world, providing people with what they need—guns, narcotics, automobiles." It is a story of lust, betrayal, and murder, featuring American expatriates, a beautiful woman, and ruthless guerrillas.
(The entire section is 168 words.)
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