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One Big Damn Puzzler


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About the Author

John Harding was born in the Isle of Ely in 1951. After local village and grammar schools, he read English at Oxford. He worked as a newspaper reporter, magazine writer and editor before becoming a freelance writer. His first novel, the bestselling What We Did On Our Holiday was shortlisted for the WHSmith New Talent Award. His second was the much-acclaimed While the Sun Shines. He lives in Richmond upon Thames with his wife and two sons.


Set on a fictional South Pacific island inhabited by black bantam pigs and a clan of nearly-naked eccentrics, this excessively zany British import has a raging conscience and a muted heart. Managua, a one-legged tribesman (most of his fellow inhabitants are missing limbs), is obsessed with transcribing Hamlet into island pidgin and finds his unconventional paradise disturbed when William Hardt, a white American lawyer, arrives to arrange reparations for natives whose limbs have been blown off by the landmines left behind years ago by the American military. Hardt soon witnesses a staggering array of peculiarities: the the shitting beach where villagers empty their bowels every morning; transvestite men forced into dressing in drag by parents who wanted girls; vision quests brought on by consuming kassa, a red hallucinogenic paste. A few years after his departure from the island, Hardt's successful mission has drastic consequences for the island. Journalist Harding (While the Sun Shines) is an equal opportunity and brutally sharp lampooner, though he sometimes misses (notably in his invocation of 9/11 as a parallel to corporate America's exploitation of the island). Folly, silliness and cultural sucker punches come at full speed in this ribald, imaginative farce. (Apr.) Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.

"'A wonderful novel, written with great humour and a rare generosity of spirit.' - Deborah Moggach 'Wonderfully funny, original and moving. Harding has knife-sharp observation, immaculate timing and the guts to take his story as far as it will go.' - Helen Dunmore 'Underpinned with great love and humanity. A wonderful book.' - The Times 'Very funny...truly memorable...the third ace in Harding's hand is the ending of the's quite stunning.' - Daily Express"

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