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William Boyd was born in 1952 in Accra, Ghana and grew up there and in Nigeria. His first novel, A Good Man in Africa (1981), won the Whitbread First Novel Award and the Somerset Maugham Prize. His other novels are An Ice Cream War (1982, shortlisted for the 1982 Booker Prize and winner of the John Llewellyn Rhys Prize), Stars and Bars (1984), The New Confessions (1987), Brazzaville Beach (1990, winner of the McVitie Prize and the James Tait Black Memorial Prize), The Blue Afternoon (1993, winner of the 1993 Sunday Express Book of the Year Award), Armadillo (1998), Any Human Heart (2002, winner of the Prix Jean Monnet) and Restless (2006, winner of the Costa Novel of the Year Award). His latest novel is Ordinary Thunderstorms (2009). Some thirteen of his screenplays have been filmed, including The Trench (1999), which he also directed, and he is also the author of four collections of short stories: On the Yankee Station (1981), The Destiny of Nathalie 'X' (1995), Fascination (2004) and The Dream Lover (2008). He is married and divides his time between London and South West France.
The ever inventive Boyd‘whose highly praised first novel, A Good Man in Africa, was followed by others set in Africa and America, sets this latest work in contemporary London, which he observes with the close attention of someone seeing it for the first time. In fact, his protagonist, Lorimer Black, is not exactly a native: his ancestry derives from an obscure Central European Gypsy clan who made it to London after the war. Lorimer is the only truly Anglicized one among them, from his name to his careful sense of what to wear and say on every occasion. He is a loss adjuster at a big insurance company, whose day begins unsettlingly with the suicide of an insured client he was about to visit. Then a new hotel building, mysteriously overinsured, burns down, and his boss, the overbearing and cheerfully philosophical Mr. Hogg, seems to want Lorimer to investigate. A dreadful new colleague comes into his life and tries to make Lorimer his best friend; Lorimer falls hard for a mysterious actress glimpsed in one of his company's TV commercials; his car is vandalized, and he is attacked in the street; his elderly father dies suddenly; and Hogg turns nasty and fires him. Throughout all this, poor Lorimer, stricken with a severe sleep disorder, tries to get some rest at a sleep clinic where he seeks what he calls "lucid dreams," which‘unlike his waking life‘he can control. Boyd's comic writing is zesty and brilliantly on-target about contemporary Londoners, high and low, and Lorimer's adventures have enough of an alarming edge to keep a reader constantly, and delightedly, off balance. The only flaw in an otherwise sparkling performance is an odd and unlikely journal Lorimer keeps, which is designed to fill the gaps in his previous life, but which never sounds like anything other than the author's voice. Editor, Vicky Wilson; agent: Georges Borchardt. (Oct.)
'As entertaining and as thought-provoking as anything Boyd has ever written' Daily Telegraph 'Marvellously paced and ingeniously plotted. A real page-turner' - Andrew Motion, Observer 'Armadillo doesn't miss a trick. It has depth and resonance which will make you want to read it again... zinging readability' - Philip Hensher, Mail on Sunday 'A joy to read: east to get into, addictively plotted and beautifully written' - James Delingpole, Daily Mail 'As entertaining as anything he has written... brisk farce and dialogue that can be finger-licking good' - David Profumo, Spectator