Reviews Round-up

The critics’ verdicts on China Mieville and Anatol Lieven.

Embassytown by China Mieville

"It's a joy to find this young author coming into his own, and bringing the craft of science fiction out of the backwaters where it's been caught lately," notes Ursula K Le Guin at the Guardian praising China Mieville's latest book Embassytown. The novel, she writes, "works on every level, providing compulsive narrative, splendid intellectual rigour and risk, moral sophistication, fine verbal fireworks and sideshows, and even the old-fashioned satisfaction of watching a protagonist become more of a person than she gave promise of being."

Stuart Kelly at the Scotsman is equally complimentary noting the novel "is a melange of high-brow ideas and pulp settings and tropes; it is a radically unromantic version of fantasy with a pedigree encompassing both HP Lovecraft and Italo Calvino."

But for James Lovegrove at the Financial Times although the novel has, "pacey narrative action and sharp characterisation," the real force of Embassytown lies in its portrayal of language. With prose that "bristles with verbal invention and at moments verges on a sort of dense polyglot poetry," he commends, "what emerges from the wordplay and the exotic drama is an argument for tolerance."

Pakistan: A Hard Country by Anatol Lieven

"In the light of knee-jerk rhetoric emerging in Abbottabad's aftermath," notes Arifa Akbar at the Independent, "Lieven's penetrating study is more relevant." The author, Akbal writes, argues "that Pakistan might be a near-failed state, but we need it to keep existing ... for the stability of the subcontinent." He countenances the books central argument that, "not to go in guns blazing, is in itself a mature antidote to the neo-conservative "cut them adrift" policy," and that, "tiny niggles apart, this nuanced analysis should be read, and learned from."

"Lieven's book," notes Pankaj Mishra at the Guardian, "is refreshingly free of the condescension that many western writers, conditioned to see their own societies as the apogees of civilisation, bring to Asian countries, assessing them solely in terms of how far they have approximated western political and economic institutions and practices." He compliments the book as a "blow for clarity and sobriety," and notes that despite, "some blind spots of his own," the author "overturns many prejudices, and gives general readers plenty of fresh concepts with which to think about a routinely misrepresented country."

Pakistan: A Hard Country will be reviewed in next week's New Statesman

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Casting the Brexit movie that is definitely real and will totally happen

Details are yet unclear as to whether The Bad Boys of Brexit will be gracing our screens, or just Farage's vivid imagination.

Hollywood is planning to take on the farcical antics of Nigel Farage et al during the UK referendum, according to rumours (some suspect planted by a starstruck Brexiteer). 

Details are yet unclear as to whether The Bad Boys of Brexit will be gracing our big or small screens, a DVD, or just Farage's vivid imagination, but either way here are our picks for casting the Hollywood adaptation.

Nigel Farage: Jim Carrey

The 2018 return of Alan Partridge as "the voice of hard Brexit" makes Steve Coogan the obvious choice. Yet Carrey's portrayal of the laughable yet pure evil Count Olaf in A Series of Unfortunate Events makes him a serious contender for this role. 

Boris Johnson: Gerard Depardieu

Stick a blonde wig on him and the French acting royalty is almost the spitting image of our own European aristocrat. He has also evidently already mastered the look of pure shock necessary for the final scene of the movie - in which the Leave campaign is victorious.

Arron Banks: Ricky Gervais

Ricky Gervais not only resembles Ukip donor Arron Banks, but has a signature shifty face perfect for the scene where the other Brexiteers ask him what is the actual plan. 

Gerry Gunster: Anthony Lapaglia

The Bad Boys of Brexit will reportedly be told from the perspective of the US strategist turned Brexit referendum expert Gerry Gunster. Thanks to recurring roles in both the comedy stalwart Frasier, and the US crime drama Without a Trace, Anthony Lapaglia is versatile enough to do funny as well as serious, a perfect mix for a story that lurches from tragedy to farce. Also, they have the same cunning eyes.

Douglas Carswell: Mark Gatiss

The resemblance is uncanny.

David Cameron: Andrew Scott

Andrew Scott is widely known for his portrayal of Moriarty in Sherlock, where he indulges in elaborate, but nationally destructive strategy games. The actor also excels in a look of misplaced confidence that David Cameron wore all the way up to the referendum. Not to mention, his forehead is just as shiny. He'll have to drink a lot of Bollinger to gain that Cameron-esque puppy fat though. 

Kate Hoey: Judi Dench

Although this casting would ruin the image of the much beloved national treasure that is Judi Dench, if anyone can pull off being the face of Labour Leave, the incredible actress can.