Brazzaville Beach

Brazzaville Beach

3.9 (3,581 ratings by Goodreads)
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'A most extraordinary parable about mankind ...quite unlike anything else I have ever read' - "Sunday Express". 'I live on Brazzaville Beach ...I am here because two sets of strange and extraordinary events happened to me ...One in England, first, and then one in Africa.' On Brazzaville Beach, on the edge of Africa, Hope Clearwater examines the complex circumstances that brought her there. Sifting the details for evidence of her own innocence or guilt, she tells her engrossing story with a blunt and beguiling honesty that not only intrigues and disturbs but is also completely more

Product details

  • Paperback | 416 pages
  • 132.08 x 195.58 x 27.94mm | 317.51g
  • Penguin Books Ltd
  • London, United Kingdom
  • 014014658X
  • 9780140146585
  • 813,432

Author information

William Boyd was born in Ghana in 1952. He was brought up there and in Nigeria. He was educated at the universities of Nice, Glasgow and Oxford. He is the author of a number of acclaimed and hugely popular novels and three volumes of short stories, and the recipient of many prizes, including the Whitbread First Novel Award, the John Llewellyn Rhys Memorial Prize, the James Tait Black Memorial Prize and the Sunday Express Book of the Year Award. He is married and lives in Londonshow more

Review Text

Opting for a leaner, meaner approach than in his earlier work, Boyd here demonstrates he is capable of a serious, tightly controlled narrative as well as the comic-satiric exuberance or a GoodMan in Africa (1982) and The New Confessions (1988). Hope Clearwater is a member of the Grosso Arvore Research Project in Africa, an ongoing study of the behavior of primates. Led by Eugene Mallabar, an international scholar with a severe dose of hubris, and staffed by a familiar breed of academic toads and careerists, Grosso Arvore becomes as much a study of human nature for Hope as the local chimpanzee observation group. When not noting some peculiar goings-on among the local chimps, Hope - convincing, stiff-necked, proud in her own way - tracks the subtle hierarchy of Mallabar's realm: doting wife Ginga, henchman Hauser, the hapless adulterer lan Vail. Mallabar, who has established worldwide fame on the strength of chimpanzee studies with titles like The Peaceful Primate, refuses to accept Hope's claim that a local chimpanzee population is showing signs of extreme violence. Mallabar's defensiveness, and a ham-fisted accident that destroys Hope's research journal, fire her ambition to prove him wrong - and a bitter struggle is underway. Intercut with episodes from Hope's disastrous marriage and an ongoing African civil war, Boyd's latest invokes hit-you-with-a-two-by-four parallels between primate and human aggression - a cliche to be sure. But the familiar message here is more than made up for by unromanticized characterization and narrative economy. In the end, Boyd offers up a compelling tale of egos at war - and further proof of an emerging, major talent. (Kirkus Reviews)show more

Rating details

3,581 ratings
3.9 out of 5 stars
5 26% (923)
4 45% (1,627)
3 23% (841)
2 4% (150)
1 1% (40)
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