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Florence of Arabia: A Novelby Christopher Buckley
Synopses & Reviews
The bestselling author who made mincemeat of political correctness in Thank You for Smoking, conspiracy theories in Little Green Men, and Presidential indiscretions in No Way to Treat a First Lady now takes on the hottest topic in the entire world — Arab-American relations — in a blistering comic novel sure to offend the few it doesn't delight.
Appalled by the punishment of her rebellious friend Nazrah, youngest and most petulant wife of Prince Bawad of Wasabia, Florence Farfarletti decides to draw a line in the sand. As Deputy to the deputy assistant secretary for Near East Affairs, Florence invents a far-reaching, wide-ranging plan for female emancipation in that part of the world.
The U.S. government, of course, tells her to forget it. Publicly, that is. Privately, she's enlisted in a top-secret mission to impose equal rights for the sexes on the small emirate of Matar (pronounced "Mutter"), the "Switzerland of the Persian Gulf." Her crack team: a CIA killer, a snappy PR man, and a brilliant but frustrated gay bureaucrat. Her weapon: TV shows.
The lineup on TV Matar includes A Thousand and One Mornings, a daytime talk show that features self-defense tips to be used against boyfriends during Ramadan; an addictive soap opera featuring strangely familiar members of the Matar royal family; and a sitcom about an inept but ruthless squad of religious police, pitched as "Friends from Hell."
The result: the first deadly car bombs in the country since 1936, a fatwa against the station's entire staff, a struggle for control of the kingdom, and, of course, interference from the French. And that's only the beginning.
A merciless dismantling of both American ineptitude and Arabic intolerance, Florence of Arabia is Christopher Buckley's funniest and most serious novel yet, a biting satire of how U.S. good intentions can cause the Shiite to hit the fan.
"Buckley uses the baton passed to him by the dying Evelyn Waugh to ridicule America's most embarrassing ally in the most amusing way possible, deploying high gags and low....Buckley is a literary WMD. Thank heavens he's ours." Kirkus Reviews
"Christopher Buckley is likely to make some people very angry with this book, but there will be no denying the elegance and, by my lights, the essential gentleness of his wit. Buckley can be offensive...but I don't detect malice, or at least not much." The Washington Post
"[V]ery witty indeed....It's only when Buckley realizes he can't joke his way out of the horrors that would occur in albeit fictional regimes that the book clashes with itself. Some things even Buckley can't make funny. (Grade: B)" Entertainment Weekly
"[A] hit....It's really pretty astonishing that Buckley has produced a comedy out of this stuff....Nonetheless, Buckley manages to make consistently large-hearted, wickedly informed fun out of nearly everything going..." Seattle Times
"It's finally happened: Christopher Buckley has become as insufferable as his father....The stupid jokes come too fast and furious, especially when it becomes clear that there isn't really any plot to speak of." Dallas-Ft. Worth Star Telegram
"This comic novel could cause an international incident....The biting satire and hilarity come full-blown from the fertile mind of Christopher Buckley..." Providence Journal
"Buckley's pearls have lost their luster in his latest offering. Florence of Arabia gleams with promise as a comic novel of tropical topicality, but though Buckley's timing is on, he fluffs his lines." Los Angeles Times
"The silly-sinister byways of government intrigue and power Buckley seems to know well, and the voyeuristic delight they yield is the one abiding pleasure of Florence of Arabia. But the opening sequences also bring out Buckley's weakness as a writer: an overfondness for the winking name drop." Stephen Metcalf, The New York Times Book Review
Appalled by the punishment of her rebellious friend, Florence Farfarletti decides to draw a line in the sand, and invents a plan for female emancipation in this biting satire of how U.S. good intentions can cause the Shiite to hit the fan.
About the Author
Christopher Buckley is the author of ten books and the founding editor of Forbes FYI magazine, but is proudest of the fact that he recently had a ten-and-a-half-hour lunch with Christopher (no relation) Hitchens. He (Buckley, not Hitchens) was managing editor of Esquire at age 24, and worked as a merchant marine and a White House speechwriter. He was awarded the Washington Irving Medal for Literary Excellence, but lost it during the lunch with Hitchens. Florence of Arabia is his first and probably last Middle East comedy.
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