Tom Sharpe's second South African novel and a brilliant follow- up to Riotous Assembly
Tom Sharpe was born in 1928 and educated at Lancing College and Pembroke College, Cambridge. He did his national service in the Marines before moving to South Africa in 1951, where he did social work before teaching in Natal. He had a photographic studio in Pietermaritzburg from 1957 until 1961, and from 1963 to 1972 he was a lecturer in History at the Cambridge College of Arts and Technology. He is the author of sixteen bestselling novels, including Porterhouse Blue and Blott on the Landscape, which were serialised on television, and Wilt, which was made into a film. In 1986 he was awarded the XXIIIeme Grand Prix de l'Humour Noir Xavier Forneret, and in 2010 he was awarded the inaugural BBK La Risa de Bilbao Prize. Tom Sharpe died in June 2013 at his home in northern Spain.
Set in South Africa, this broad, brutal farce begins when AfrikaansKommandant van Heerden, chief of police in the little town of Piemburg, takes a short vacation. While he indulges his Anglophile tendencies by trying to ingratiate himself with some would-be upper-class Britons, Liutenantthis is Afrikaans spelling Verkramp decides to make his part of South Africa safe from the communist threat once and for all. This he undertakes by blowing up the town's main facilities and by arresting and torturing the main citizens. Then, upon the suggestion of libidinous psychiatrist Dr. von Blimenstein, Verkramp subjects all police officers to aversion therapy to keep them away from black women. The experiment goes awry, and the police force becomes homosexual. Called back from his vacation after cuckolding his host on a fox hunt, van Heerden finds Piemburg a shambles and a raving mad Verkramp about to marry Dr. von Blimenstein. In the apocalyptic climax, van Heerden saves face with his superiors while exacting revenge on his snobbish former hosts. This timely satire will strike readers either as hilarious or beside the point. (April)
"Explosively funny, fiendishly inventive" * Sunday Times *
"Splendidly funny" * New Statesman *
"What clinches the novel's success is Mr Sharpe's brilliant comic style. His phrasing, his timing, and his extraordinarily deft handling of the minutiae of comic incidents make for real hilarity" * Times Literary Supplement *
"Britain's leading practitioner of black humour" * Punch *