The Comedians, by Graham Greene

Brown, travelling on a ship from New York to Haiti after an unsuccessful trip trying to sell his hotel on the island, meets Mr Smith, the "presidential candidate", who is hoping to establish a vegetarian institute, and Major (or perhaps Colonel) Jones, whose motives which are not entirely clear. After leaving the boat, Brown does not expect to see the other two again, but their paths do cross...

Another great piece of writing. It felt like a short novel (only about 8 hours) but looking back on it, it seems like a lot happened, so it was very rich without feeling rushed. The characters were very believable - not just Smith, Brown and Jones, but the supporting cast of friends, lovers, officials (corrupt and otherwise), soldiers etc..

The world conjured up felt very real: this was set in the period when "Papa Doc" and his secret police were running the country, and there was a sense of things just falling apart as corruption spreads and order dissolves into chaos. I didn't really know much about this period of history and so it inspired me to read up on it a bit (I thought Haiti was an island: I hadn't realised that it was part of the same land mass as the Domenican Republic).

This was another stonking performance by Tim Pigott-Smith, which was nearly as good as the one in The Human Factor. Jones and Smith were given voices that felt spot on. He really brought the book to life (not that the book wasn't good, but the reading was a real treat).

Completed : 16-Jul-2011 (audiobook)

[nickoh] [2011 books] [books homepage]