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Winner of the 2010 Man Booker Prize. Karl Leon Forelock is a product of the northern English town of Partington (the wettest spot in Europe) and a graduate with a double starred first in the Moral Decencies from Malapert college, Cambridge. Sent to Sydney on a CIA bursary on a mission to teach the Australians how to live, Leon quickly discovers that there are some natives who believe that they have an education to pass on in return. But it is at the hands of the women in Australia that Leon receives his most painful, and on occasions his most pleasurable, lessons. Meanwhile, in a foul, dilapidated bush privy, way up in the Bogong high plains, the Redback sucks her teeth and waits her turn...

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Book Details

ISBN: 9780099277484
ISBN-10: 0099277484
Format: Paperback
(196mm x 130mm x 23mm)
Pages: 368
Imprint: Vintage
Publisher: Vintage Publishing
Publish Date: 6-May-1999
Country of Publication: United Kingdom


US Kirkus Review » Here's more woolly British satire - though this one's set Down Under - from the author of Coming From Behind (1983) and Peeping Tom (1985). The fictional memoir of a self-described "reactionary fascist hyena," this comic narrative charts his "spiritual conversion" - an event hastened by a spider's bite. When a redback arachnid munches on Leon Forelock's much-discussed member, it forces him to reassess his life as a "social malcontent." Born in a dismal industrial town, Forelock set out on the road to reaction and priggery when his father took off with another woman shortly before Leon's ninth-birthday party. After a successful career at Cambridge (a double first in "Moral Decencies"), this self-righteous twit is recruited by the CIA, posing as the "Freedom Academy International," to become a sort of moral tutor to Australian spies. In the country "full of gambolling indigenes," where his father now lives as well, Forelock joins the "stormtroopers of slow change," a strange group of like-minded Aussies whose right-wing fulminations seldom jibe with their lives as adulterers and drunkards. Forelock's war with the loony left finds him editing Black Sail ("tile only Australian journal of ideas Major-General Idi Amin was said to read from cover to cover"); monitoring campus activism; keeping out unwelcome aliens; decoding the radical press; and leading the "Campaign for a Cleaner Australia," an anti-smut group. An admittedly "servile priest of the feminine persuasion," he shacks up with the synchronized swimming team of Vernie Redfern and Maroochi Ravesh - an eight-year union sundered when he beds his aging step-mum soon after his dad's death. This slangy catalogue of Forelock's misadventures sends up the past three decades of Australian politics and its peculiar manifestations on the left and right - for, at the end of this overly digressive tale, now-radicalized Forelock is unwanted by all as he trades in one kind of blather for another. There's lots of pointed humor in this otherwise pointless mess - in other words, clever to a fault. (Kirkus Reviews)

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Author Biography - Howard Jacobson

Howard Jacobson has written fourteen novels and five works of non-fiction. He won the Bollinger Everyman Wodehouse Award in 2000 for The Mighty Walzer and then again in 2013 for Zoo Time. In 2010 he won the Man Booker Prize for The Finkler Question and was also shortlisted for the prize in 2014 for his most recent novel, J.

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