The Satsuma Complex
‘Funny, clever and sweet… there is a lot of Mortimer’s ridiculousness’ – Sunday Times
‘The much loved comic proves adept at noirish fiction in a debut whose surrealist humour sets it apart’ – Observer
My name is Gary. I’m a thirty-year-old legal assistant with a firm of solicitors in London. To describe me as anonymous would be unfair but to notice me other than in passing would be a rarity. I did make a good connection with a girl, but that blew up in my face and smacked my arse with a fish slice.
Gary Thorn goes for a pint with a work acquaintance called Brendan. When Brendan leaves early, Gary meets a girl in the pub. He doesn’t catch her name, but falls for her anyway. When she suddenly disappears without saying goodbye, all Gary has to remember her by is the book she was reading: The Satsuma Complex. But when Brendan goes missing, Gary needs to track down the girl he now calls Satsuma to get some answers.
And so begins Gary’s quest, through the estates and pie shops of South London, to finally bring some love and excitement into his unremarkable life…
A page-turning story with a cast of unforgettable characters, The Satsuma Complex is the brilliantly funny first novel by bestselling author and comedian Bob Mortimer.
Born into a Roma family in 1960s’ Yugoslavia, Janek Hudorovec has grown up with a terrible secret. Given the opportunity to ‘make something of himself’, he abandons the familiar wild and tactile world of nature and enters the controlled, rational life of university and the city. Here Janek proves himself to be not a conscious rebel but a spontaneous one; under the influences of impulses he cannot control. While his teachers try to understand and categorize him, it is only his fellow student, Daria, who seems able to provide a rational insight into the causes of his behaviour and offer him true affection. Yet the battle that Janek must fight with his past leads him back to the gypsy village, and a terrible denouement. This tragic story of self-punishment explores the idea that man and nature, if they are to survive, together and separately, must forever remain in conflict. Flisar’s ability to describe Janek’s inner states through juxtaposition with the outer world create a mesmerizing claustrophobia, as the reader is pulled inexorably into the nightmarish world of a man in anguish. A Swarm of Dust is widely considered to be one of Flisar’s finest works of fiction, questioning the very notion of objective truth and subverting the norms of Judeo-Christian morality.
Travels with Chinaski is the lonely lurch into lunacy, anarchy, the drunken fall into disassociation, the paralytic collapse into alienation – the utter, utter headlong, bar-storming leap into the liberation of madness. Chinaski: the freedom, the fuck death, to fuck your only friend’s girl, to fuck over rat-infested bed-sit-land, to fuck your kidneys, your liver, your numerous court appearances and then to fucking care about your beautiful beat-up neighbour as she cries in the night. Chinaski walks into your life, side-stepping last night’s cold sick on the floor, he kicks you out of bed, he’s back from the dead and he is going to make you dance, rage and drink with sheer life. Chinaski is there for you like a hangover that’s moved in to stay.
Madness Can Set You Free
“Daithidh MacEochaidh’s words are delightfully wordy, swimming in the deep end of the language baths… I’m rereading Kerouac for ‘The Big Read’, and it seems to me that MacEochaidh shares some of his linguistic exuberance. More power to him!” – Ian McMillan
“Prose as raw as a manhir, designed to skin your knuckles” – Dai Vaughan
Hull, 1998. Unemployed, single and broke. These chains are what eighteen-year-old Ginger is determined to break free from, away from his indifferent parents and toward the ever-elusive achievement of a girlfriend. Life is monotonous to the point of tears – until the chance acquisition of a gold ring unbalances Ginger’s whole world.
Suddenly Ginger finds himself caught up with violence and tinpot crime, betrayed by his best friend and escaping from local villains desperate to reclaim their property. An encounter with a middle class ‘daddy’s girl’, hitching a ride for a little excitement, holds promise – but when her own questionable past is thrown into the light, their situation worsens and the frying pan erupts into the fire. With their lives at risk, they must hatch a plan to turn the tables on their enemies and dare to play the criminals at their own game. A hilarious tale of kidnapping, bad sex and self-discovery.
Gabriela Babnik’s novel Dry Season breaks the mould of what we usually expect from a writer from a small, Central European nation. With a global perspective, Babnik takes on the themes of racism, the role of women in modern society and the loneliness of the human condition. Dry Season is a record of an unusual love affair. Anna is a 62-year-old designer from Slovenia and Ismael is a 27-year-old from Burkina Faso who was brought up on the street, where he was often the victim of abuse. What unites them is the loneliness of their bodies, a tragic childhood and the dry hamartan season, during which neither nature nor love is able to flourish. She soon realizes that the emptiness between them is not really caused by their skin colour and age difference, but predominantly by her belonging to the Western culture in which she has lost or abandoned all the preordained roles of daughter, wife and mother. Sex does not outstrip the loneliness and repressed secrets from the past surface into a world she sees as much crueller and, at the same time, more innocent than her own. Cleverly written as an alternating narrative of both sides in the relationship, the novel is interlaced with magic realism.