Great Apes

Great Apes

3.66 (2,713 ratings by Goodreads)
  • Paperback

Currently unavailable

Add to wishlist

AbeBooks may have this title (opens in new window).

Try AbeBooks


After a night of routine debauchery in London's clubland, the artist Simon Dykes falls asleep - only to wake up to find his girlfriend has been transmogrified into a chimp. Indeed the whole of London, though functioning normally, is run and inhabited by chimps. Can the great chimp-doctor, Zack Busner, cure him of his illusion that he's human? A wonderfully funny and clever novel that manages too to evoke great feelings of pity and sadness in the reader, this is in effect a meditation on how we treat more

Product details

  • Paperback | 416 pages
  • 128 x 196 x 30mm | 299.38g
  • Penguin Books Ltd
  • London, United Kingdom
  • 0140268006
  • 9780140268003
  • 1,283,650

Author information

Will Self read philosophy at Oxford. He is the author of three other collections of short stories, three novellas, four novels (most recently Dorian) and four non-fiction works. As a journalist he has contributed to a plethora of publications over the years. He has a regular column in the Evening Standard and is also a frequent broadcaster on television and radio. Will lives in London with his wife and four children.'Brilliantly original, Will Self is one of those rare writers whose imaginations change for ever the way we see the world' JG Ballard 'Examining Mr Self's case notes, I recommend we up the dosage' Heraldshow more

Review Text

Entering a Self fantasy (Grey Area, 1996, etc.) demands both a strong stomach and a readiness to experience narrative pyrotechnics, but in this second novel (after My Idea of Fun, 1994), in which an artist wakes up after a bender to discover that his entire world is now run by chimpanzees, these demands are amply rewarded. Not only is the world run by chimpanzees, but the painter Simon Dykes finds that his girlfriend has turned into a chimp. And that's not all: The increasingly frenzied painter notices that he's becoming a bit hairy as well. The ultimate mind-bender arrives with the emergency psychiatric team: There's not a human being among them. Simon goes comatose and is hauled off to the psycho ward. Enter Dr. Zack Busner, controversial but respected chimpanzee analyst, whose method includes taking his most flamboyant cases on talk shows. Busner has never seen a case like Simon's before, and he marvels at the consistency of the artist's human delusions when his charge recovers sufficiently to communicate. After all, he tells Simon, he is a chimpanzee. Whence came this odd idea that he's a human? (Humans are a sad, grubby species, condescended to by the articulate, successful chimp world.) He takes Simon into his home, a normal chimp domicile full of sub-adults, mating frenzies, and group grooming sessions, there to work intensely with his patient - and, by degrees, Simon does begin to adjust to his new reality. He still has human memories, however, and Busner, in an attempt to get to the bottom of Simon's obsession, sets out with him in tow to the missing link in the puzzle - a search leading to the heart of Africa and one of the world's few remaining populations of wild humans. Vividly imagined, extraordinarily credible, provocative and entertaining in equal measure - and the detailing of chimp/human behavior allows Self's libidinous, ferociously satirical, scatological zeal to flourish. HoooGraa! (Kirkus Reviews)show more

Rating details

2,713 ratings
3.66 out of 5 stars
5 23% (613)
4 39% (1,050)
3 26% (698)
2 8% (227)
1 5% (125)
Book ratings by Goodreads
Goodreads is the world's largest site for readers with over 50 million reviews. We're featuring millions of their reader ratings on our book pages to help you find your new favourite book. Close X