Synopses & Reviews
MacAdam/Cage is thrilled to publish James Hawes, a brilliant satirist from the UK. His wonderful new novel begins with its protagonist Brian Marley, a divorced, ineffectual teacher, all alone in a jungle about to die on live television. A reluctant contestant on Brit Pluck, Green Hell, Seven Figures, the ultimate reality TV show, Marley has somehow managed to outlive his rivals and win two million pounds. Except that the helicopter sent to bring him back to civilization has crashed, and he's on his own, with a portable camera, at the foot of a monstrously tall cliff. He has no option but to start climbing... To his astonishment, Marley doesn't die, and the world he finds at the top of that cliff is remarkably like an Englishman's version of heaven. There's cricket and rugby, the Union Jack, plucky boys, pretty girls, a tough but fair headmaster? an entire miniature civilization created by the surviving passengers from an airliner which vanished in 1958 carrying a jolly gang of youngsters to a public schools jamboree in Australia. Believing that they were one of the first casualties of World War III, they have survived in their jungle fastness for nearly fifty years, sustained by the Book of Common Prayer and good old English values. Hawes' telling of this tale is as funny as anything he has ever written, but when Brian's rescuers do find him at last, when the world of tabloid journalism confronts that of the Eagle, when the Prime Minister, spotting an opportunity for a sound-bite, meets the Headmaster, the novel shifts gear into a glorious satire worthy of Evelyn Waugh.
"In this corker of a satire on politics and culture (the author's fifth novel; the first to be published in the U.S.), Brian Marley is plunked down in the horrific jungles of Papua, New Guinea, to compete in Brit Pluck, Green Hell, Two Million, a diabolical survival-reality show. Our Everyman undergoes grueling ordeals and is close to death, yet remains the last man standing. Poised to exit, he witnesses the crash of the helicopters that would carry him to freedom, thus losing all contact with civilization. Dazed and seeking shelter, he discovers not mirage or psychosis, but a colony of British airplane crash survivors tucked away in a time warp since the late '50s. 'Just a jolly gang of boys and girls on our way out to the big Commmonwealth Public Schools jamboree in Adelaide' says the self-styled 'Vicar.' The resourcefulness that carried them thus far leads to their glorious repatriation, whereupon the colony's reactionary Headmaster ousts the British government, turns its social programs topsy-turvy and brokers a deal with the U.S. to become a colony. 'We'll be a damn sight freer and have a lot more clout as a state in America than in a United Europe.... We'll be dealing with our own sort in our own language, not with the ruddy Frogs through wop interpreters.' Sans two million pounds, sans cushy Foreign Office post proposed to keep him mum about ghastly goings-on back in the jungle and sans nubile blond beauty offered as spouse, our contemporary Candide eschews corruption and succeeds in 'making his garden grow' in a most satisfactory fashion. " Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"James Hawes has a growing reputation, richly deserved, for sharp and snappy satires...deliciously entertaining and uncomfortable." Independent on Sunday
"An assured, clever, raffishly inventive work." Guardian
"Completely barmy, and rather dementedly appealing." Evening Standard
"[C]onsistently inventive and entertaining." Daily Mail
"Speak for England gets progressively more amusing and intelligent throughout...the tone of the narrative is pitch-perfect." Observer
"Hawes is a brilliant and deadly satirist... His stinging one-liners evoke the crisp wit of Evelyn Waugh." Bloomberg
About the Author
James Hawes is the author of five novels including A White Merc With Fins and White Powder, Green Light. He lives in Cardiff.