- USD 7.99
Descripción de editorial
A Washington Post Notable Fiction Book for 2011
One of The Telegraph's Best Fiction Books 2011
Far from London's crime and pollution, Hanmouth's wealthier residents live in picturesque, heavily mortgaged cottages in the center of a town packed with artisanal cheese shops and antiques stores. They're reminded of the town's less desirable outskirts—with their grim, flimsy housing stock and chain stores—only when their neighbors have the presumption to claim also to live in Hanmouth.
When an eight-year-old girl from the outer area goes missing, England's eyes suddenly turn toward the sleepy town with a curiosity as piercing and unblinking as the closed-circuit security cameras that line Hanmouth's idyllic streets. But somehow these cameras have missed the abduction of the girl, whose name is China. Is her blank-eyed hairdresser mother hiding her as part of a moneymaking hoax? Has she been abducted by one of the lurking perverts the townspeople imagine the cameras are protecting them from? Perhaps more cameras are needed?
As it turns out, more than one resident of Hanmouth has a secret hidden behind closed doors. There's Sam and Harry, the cheesemonger and aristocrat who lead the county's gay orgies. The quiet husband of postcolonial theorist Miranda (everyone agrees she's marvelous) keeps a male lover, while their daughter disembowels dolls she's named Child Pornography and Slightly Jewish. Moral crusader John Calvin's Neighborhood Watch has an unusual reason for holding its meetings in secret. And, of course, somewhere out there is the house where little China is hidden.
With the dark hilarity and unflinching honesty of a modern-day Middlemarch, King of the Badgers demolishes the already fragile privacy of Hanmouth's inhabitants. These characters, exquisitely drawn and rawly human, proclaim Philip Hensher's status as an extraordinary chronicler of the domestic, and one of the world's most dazzling and ambitious novelists.
Hensher begins his ambitious tapestry with the disappearance of little China O'Connor from a working-class neighborhood on the outskirts of fictional Hanmouth, Devon. Among the sympathetic English folk is the teenage Hettie, who conducts hilariously brutal trials with dolls given names like "Child Pornography," and whose sentencing involves hatpins and immolation. China's fate remains a mystery for much of the book, and Hensher turns to the raucous fun had by a group of unruly gay men in town and the overweight son of a family new to Hanmouth. Hensher's brilliance shines in the rollicking parties, sendups of provincial book clubs, and smug academic infighting; his scenes are well-drawn and hilarious. Lurking around the edges of the novel are larger questions about ceding privacy for the public good (a one-man neighborhood watch insists on more CCTV cameras with a slogan Orwell would have loved). Though the book clearly has no intention of being "about" a missing girl, the long sidelining of her thread was a risky choice and will surely test the patience of some readers. But then, just when you think it's safe to let your children play in the yard, Hensher offers a hint at China's fate with an icy control that is terribly disturbing.