The Last Word: A Novel, by Hanif Kureishi *****

thelastwordKureishi is a writer of considerable renown. Here he has created a story that is not only savagely funny, but the closest I have seen to technically perfect. A million thanks to Net Galley and Scriber for the DRC.

This wonderful gem will be available for purchase March 10.

Kureishi chose the title partially because he had planned it to be his final novel; to see what he has to say about his book, go here:

That said, there are several other spins you could put on this title. I don’t want to blow the ending, but the title is much more wry than Kureishi lets on, although he does point out in the above interview that it’s partly about the awkward nature of the biographer’s work, and how one might feel about “…having your story told back to you by an idiot.”

Harry is either a biographer or a parasite, depending upon one’s point of view. He has been sent out to stay as a guest in Mamoon’s secluded home out in the back of beyond, to interview him and those who love him, those who hate him, and anybody else who has any good dirt on him. Says Rob, his publisher: “Extreme biography. That is your job.” The stakes are high: if Harry should fail on his mission, he will be doomed to the halls of academia. He could even be forced to teach creative writing.

Dear god; the humanity!

But Harry is up for the job. He needs the money; he wants a career. And when one considers the number of women Mamoon has left unhappy, it would seem that there is a great deal of material to be mined. So nervous though he is, he rolls up his sleeves and tiptoes out to conduct interviews and write some trash.

For awhile the plot sort of hums along, and then it appears to wander. If you are foolish enough to stop halfway through the book, you may come away unimpressed.

But Mamoon is not merely the passively uncooperative subject he appears to be. The man is sly as hell. In the end, what will each of them become, and more to the point, who will do a hatchet job on whom?

As the ending unfurled I could only drop my jaw in amazement. It was so damn smooth! How did Kureishi turn that whole thing around that way? I don’t want to ruin it for you, so I will only tell you to read this book when it becomes available in March, and prepare to bow at the feet of the master. He’s somewhere on that highly literary “sinking rock” known as Britain, and he’s a better writer than you are. Well, probably.

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