Friday, 16 June 2017

Devil of a State

As we are still celebrating the 100th year of the birth of Anthony Burgess, my favourite writer, and as it is summer here, I thought I would make a summer read suggestion about one of his lesser known novel, Devil of a State. That it sounds like an essay about the result of UK's last elections is just a happy coincidence. The state in question is the fictitious Dunia in Africa. Muslim country run by a Caliph, the story is set on in the time before the opening of the new mosque. The (anti)hero is British passport officer Francis Lydgate, accidental bigamist, father of children from an African mistress/concubine, lost in the chaos of post colonial Africa. Tensions and struggles between Europeans, Australians and the native population, between a fallen British Empire and a country not ready but eager for independence, between all sorts of political ideologies and races, make for a hilarious dystopian tragicomedy. You also have two Italian marble workers, father and son, also in conflict, beer drinking in the mosque, rumors of head shrinking in the jungle, an uranium mine, religious zealotry of all faiths, this is a dense book and truly a devil of a state.

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