Sometimes novelists seem to know more than they should. Washington writer Bob Reiss has written a new novel, "Divine Assassin," that raises a few eyebrows. It's the story of a plot to murder Muammar Qaddafi, and recent events and certain details have made the book strangely prescient. Reiss began thinking about the novel 10 years ago after the murder of former Chilean ambassador Orlando Letelier and his coworker Ronni Moffitt in a car explosion on Sheridan Circle. He started writing the book about three years ago.
"When I started the book," Reiss said yesterday, "the New York publishers said no one was interested in Qaddafi or terrorism." But because of his careful research in Egypt and Israel and the time he spent interviewing a member of the Palestine Liberation Organization, the book took on a veracity that impressed members of the Libyan mission at the United Nations.
Reiss said a friend of his was at a private dinner in New York two months ago with some top-ranking Libyan delegates who evidently found something in the book that came too close for comfort. They were interested in where Reiss acquired his information. Reiss said the book is the story of a former Iranian hostage whose fiance' is killed in an act of terrorism in Washington. Having little faith in the government to do anything about it, he sets off with another former hostage to kill Qaddafi. The avenging American does meet Qaddafi face to face, and what happens is the story. End Notes
Jesse Jackson, who was in town last week complaining about the conservative drift of the Democratic Party, will be back again the first of next month at the New Directions Conference at the Convention Center. This conference will be covering the same issues and is to bring in such familiar liberals as Eleanor Holmes Norton, Michael Harrington, Julian Bond, Gloria Steinem and William Winpisinger. In moments of frustration, the delegates to the New Directions Conference might seek advice from evangelist Billy Graham, who will be conducting a crusade at the Convention Center at the same time . . .
The John Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) building on Massachusetts Avenue was officially named the Paul and Phyllis Nitze Building yesterday at ceremonies that brought Secretary of State George Shultz to honor Nitze, a former secretary of the Navy who was a founder of SAIS and served for 22 years as the chairman of the school's advisory council. Mayor Marion Barry also spoke at the dedication . . .
In the ever-continuing celebration of former senator Eugene McCarthy's 70th birthday, there was still another party this past weekend back home in Minneapolis. It brought out some 300 former campaign workers and supporters including columnist Jimmy Breslin, who won a Pulitzer Prize this year for commentary, and ex-Chicago Seven radicals Abbie Hoffman, Jerry Rubin and David Dellinger. Hoffman summed up 1968, the year McCarthy made his big bid for the presidency, when he said: "1968 was a great and wonderful year. They don't make years like that anymore. And if it weren't for our efforts, we'd have a president today sending troops off to exotic countries like Lebanon and Grenada and bombing cities like Tripoli" . . .
Washington/Texas novelist Larry McMurtry, who just won the Pulitzer Prize for his sprawling, intense novel "Lonesome Dove," has a story he tells about the day he received the news. He was in Uvalde, Tex., on a speaking engagement. A banner across the town street read: "Welcome Larry McMurtry Author of 'Terms of Endearment.' " McMurtry was in his hotel room when he got the phone call about the Pulitzer. As he looked out the window, he saw a man on a ladder changing the sign and was amused at how quick they were about putting up the title of "Lonesome Dove." A few minutes later, when he looked again, the sign read: "Today's Specials Chiliburgers and T-bone Steaks" . . .