The Happiest People in the World: A Novel

Clarke, Brock

Published by Algonquin Books
ISBN 10: 1616204796 / ISBN 13: 9781616204792
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Synopsis: “[A] dark and funny satire . . . Infidelities, secret identities and double-crosses . . . Reflects the absurdity of any country obsessed with spying on its own people.” —The Wall Street Journal Take the format of a spy thriller, shape it around real-life incidents involving international terrorism, leaven it with dark, dry humor, toss in a love rectangle, give everybody a gun, and let everything play out in the outer reaches of upstate New York--there you have an idea of Brock Clarke’s new novel. Filled with wonder and anger in almost equal parts,The Happiest People in the World is a ripped-from-the-headlines tale of paranoia and the all-American obsession with security and the conspiracies that threaten it. “A literary first: a book that feels like the love child of Saul Bellow and Hogan’s Heroes, full of authorial cartwheels of comedy and profundity.” —GQ “The Happiest People in the World begins with a raucous bar scene featuring party streamers, smoke, prone bodies, spilled fluids and a stuffed moose with a surveillance camera in its left eye . . . [Clarke has] success in dreaming up oddball originals that have instant appeal.” —Janet Maslin, The New York Times “[Clarke] creates books that taste like delicious cuts of absurdity marbled with erudition.” —The Washington Post “A whiz-bang spy satire bundled in an edgy tale of redemption . . . His comedy of errors is impossible to put down.” —Publishers Weekly, starred review “A darkly hilarious novel . . . The writing is clever, the dialogue snappy and understated, and the effect is as pleasantly unsettling as anything Kurt Vonnegut Jr. ever wrote.” —The Portland Sun “A zany and fast-paced book that explores the myriad ways people of all nations make themselves and others unhappy.” —Chicago Tribune, Printer’s Row “Ranks among the funniest and most relevant social satires I’ve read . . . It might just make you the happiest reader in the world.” —The Dallas Morning News

Review:

An Amazon Best Book of the Month, November 2014: It’s long been a credo of mine: any story that begins with a stuffed moose head on the wall of an upstate bar, a spy camera embedded in its eye looking down on a sprawl of gunshot victims... well, attention must be paid. And my attention to Brock Clarke’s weird, wise and witty fifth novel, The Happiest People in the World, never wavered. In a nutshell, sort of: a Danish cartoonist named Jens unwisely draws a cartoon of the Prophet, making him an assassin’s target and prompting the CIA to relocate him to America, where he poses as a high school guidance counselor in a small, strange New York town. That’s where the story gets truly bizarre, often hilariously so. I’m no fan of the term “laugh out loud,” but I did audibly chuckle, a lot. (Example: “it’s all good” really is “the most idiotic expression on the planet.”) Without giving too much away: Jens (now known as Henry) works for Matthew (the school principal), both nursing secrets, both victims of lies. But beneath the convoluted entanglements of small town love and small town spies—veering too close to madcap at times—there’s a deceptively touching story of flawed men who aren’t quite sure how to be fathers, husbands, or men. Or happy. --Neal Thompson

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Title: The Happiest People in the World: A Novel
Publisher: Algonquin Books
Binding: PAPERBACK
Book Condition: Very Good

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