Friday, 21 October 2016

Review: Tigerman, Nick Harkaway

Well, this wasn't Angelmaker, either.

Of course it wasn't, Alys. Stop wanting things to be Angelmaker.

But... but there are no steamtrains!

No. There are no steamtrains. Now write the review.

Humph. Alright.

Robust and generally ethical, Nick Harkaway is quickly becoming one of my favourite writers. Even though not all his books have war-elephants and steam trains in them. Tigerman returns us to the faintly post-colonial, magical realist kind of setting you find in The Gone-Away World. Weird stuff is happening because of unchecked cultural imperialism and Western exploitation of resources - and now we've established that backgroud, let's have a rolicking adventure.

Which is what is delivered, if I'm honest. This is a superhero story with questions that are not answered because what kind of idiot asks that sort of question (but why is there a tiger? What do the clouds actually do...?) Oh, stop whining and enjoy it.

I do sometimes wonder if a white, Western writer addressing issues like the ecological ruination of island populations, with a male British soldier playing Western-saviour* to the inhabitants of an ex-colony, shouldn't bother me more, and it is a uncomfortable issue. However, within the realms of wildly enjoyable narrative, I think Harkaway handles it with a certain carefulness. Ultimately, I think it better that he is prepared to address the ugly underbelly of our society and government - however clumsily - than blithely ignore it. I accept that some might disagree.

This is probably my least favourite Harkaway book thus far but the other two are such an enduring joy that this isn't too much of a criticism. It's a clever inventive novel with a heart. Perfect weekend reading. 

Now, all together: I. DO. NOT. TRAIN. NINJAS!


*I may be wrong, but I'm pretty certain that nowhere does it state that Lester Ferris was white.

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