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A Good Man In Africa (2003)

A Good Man in Africa (2003)

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3.84 of 5 Votes: 3
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1400030021 (ISBN13: 9781400030026)

About book A Good Man In Africa (2003)

What a brilliant novel! I first read it in the early 1980s, perhaps not long after it was first published, and thought it was marvellous. Thirty years later it still seems just as entertaining, with a dazzling mix of humour and tragedy, with a healthy dose of parody of the overwhelming self-satisfaction and unassailable rectitude of European diplomats in post-colonial West Africa.Morgan Leafy, the central figure, is a brilliant creation. Dissolute, lazy and prey to rampant frustration, he spends most of his days struggling to get by doing as little as he can get away with. (I wonder why I identify with him so well!) He is, however, a decent man at heart, though for most of the book he finds little opportunity to demonstrate his inner qualities.Life has not gone to plan for Morgan. As the novel opens he is in his third year in Nkongsamba , a quiet region in the hinterland of Kinjanja, an independent West African state that until recently had been under British suzerainty. He works for the odious Arthur Fanshawe who represents all the hidebound attitudes and prejudices that proliferated in the 1970s. Morgan is sinking into ever deeper despair: he is being blackmailed by an ambitious and relentlessly corrupt local politician, the woman whom he had had visions of marrying has just announced her engagement to his younger, better looking junior colleague, and he has contracted gonorrhoea. And then things start to get worse …Boyd relates the story with his customary pellucid, gripping prose. This was his first novel but he seemed to hit mid-season form almost immediately. Morgan Leafy is not a particularly nice man, but Boyd conjures huge empathy for him as everything seems to go wrong. Corruption abounds. The High Commission is far from blameless in its interventions in local elections, but then most (though not all) of the local politicians are equally opportunistic with an eye on their financial gains rather than the interests of their long suffering electorate. .Overall the novel is exceptionally funny though there are also moments of great poignancy and sensitivity, and even Morgan manages to rise to some occasions and act for the greater good.This was a fine start to what has proved to be an illustrious writing career.

Morgan Leafy, a British diplomat in the small African republic of Kinjanja, is a bumbler in every regard. Trying to keep his job (while concurrently trying to get out of Kinjanja for a better posting), he confronts blackmail, bribery, venereal disease, a series of failed sexual encounters, and a dead body, which for a while is in the trunk of his car. Morgan's ineptitude and more broadly the British ineptitude are on overdrive throughout the novel.There is a lot to like here. The story mixes just the right number of carefully intersecting plots; those plots are all compelling; and the characters, though all over the top, are clearly drawn. The writing propels you along with a good sense of pace along with a good dose of humor and absurdity. And the book's structure is effective. Sometimes authors rearrange chronology to give added weight to a thin plot, but here the rearrangement adds drama and foreshadowing to the story telling.But all is not positive. In sending up the Brits in Africa, Boyd rarely offers admirable behavior from any of the characters. And when Morgan does finally step up in character, the ending deteriorates into an absurd chase where people race about seemingly just to move the plot to a conclusion; over-the-top proceeds from entertaining to puzzling. Perhaps Morgan's final actions are a logical outgrowth after all his frustrations, but some other aspects of the conclusion seem to come from another novel.Overall, for me, the positives far outweigh the negatives. Throughout, I read on with real interest and curiosity; I wanted to know what absurdity was going to happen next. And even if the negatives were to outweigh, it's clear William Boyd can write very well.

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This is a very funny comic novel (recently re-published since it was issued in 1981) about the British colonial experience in a mythical African country called Kinjanja. The protagonist, Morgan Leafy, is a bumbling junior diplomat who wants desperately to be reassigned -- when he isn't boozing or womanizing. When oil is discovered off the coast of Kinjanja, the little country attracts high-level British attention (aka meddling), and Leafy is assigned the job of monitoring the leading candidate in Kinjanja's national elections. William Boyd has written a very entertaining tale. This was his first novel and it won a Whitbread Prize and a Somerset Maugham Award.

This was the first novel written by the man who now is Jane Gardam’s equal in British fiction. A minor diplomat in a minor African outpost is the bug; his consul, his girlfriend, his mistress, a corrupt local candidate (and his wife), and a truly upright Scottish doctor are the windshield in this story of a man who is being crushed on every front. It is a very fun read, its wattage reduced unfairly by the knowledge that in the future Boyd will write Any Human Heart and The Blue Afternoon. - See more at:
—Jack London

A Good Man in Africa is the story of one man's challenges as he attempts to fit in to two different cultures - the British colony and the local African population. The protaganist has to balance his values and desires as he is pulled in various directions by those he knows. His selfishness often trumps his moral values and results in viewing the world in a negative manner which may not actually be representative of what is real. I enjoyed this book because it is based around characters that I could relate to but within an alternative country with different climate and traditions. It has just enough characters for each to be fully developed. One sentence summary: One man's struggle with right and wrong in an unfamiliar country.

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