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He Died With a Felafel in His Hand [Paperback]

John Birmingham
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)

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Book Description

6 Oct 1997

Here for the first time is the full horror and madness of sharing a house, told by someone who’s been there. Birmingham pulls no punches: from dead rats in the kitchen to tent-dwelling lodgers in the living room, you’ll run for the safety of living alone.

‘A rat died in the living room at King Street and we didn’t know. There was at least six inches of compacted rubbish between our feet and the floor. Old Ratty must have crawled in there and died of pleasure. A visitor uncovered him while groping around for a beer.’

Tales of debauchery, drugs, flatmates from hell and nasty things lurking in the kitchen sink abound in Rolling Stone journalist John Birmingham’s hilarious account of sharing houses in Melbourne and Brisbane. He Died with a Felafel in His Hand makes Withnail & I look like a lesson in clean living.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Flamingo; Television tie-in edition edition (6 Oct 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0006388574
  • ISBN-13: 978-0006388579
  • Product Dimensions: 19.4 x 13 x 1.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 394,683 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


‘This is the grunge version of Melrose – the characters move speedily from one bed to another in Birmingham’s share-house hell… Not recommended for landlords’, Kathy Bil, Editor, Rolling Stone

‘You’ll read it with horrified amusement and, if you’ve ever shared a flat, the occasional wince of recollection’, Terry Pratchett

From the Back Cover

‘A rat died in the living room at King Street and we didn’t know. There was at least six inches of compacted rubbish between our feet and the floor. Old Ratty must have crawled in there and died of pleasure. A visitor uncovered him while groping around for a beer.’

So you think your flatmates are from Hell? Never clean up after themselves? Sometimes forget to flush the toilet? But did they ever run up a £20,000 credit scam from home? Ever blow up a perfectly innocent milk van? Or bring a stampede of corrupt police through your door?

John Birmingham’s did. And he secretly took notes on all of them. 89 flatmates later, this is his very funny horror story.

“You’ll read it with horrified amusement and if you’ve ever shared a flat, the occasional wince of recollection.”

“This is the grunge version of Melrose – the characters move as speedily from one bed to another… Yet the props here are beanbags, bongs and unpaid bills. Not recommended for landlords.”

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
I first picked up this book a few years back on one of the many occasions I was locked out of my house I found myself in the tiny local library seeking shelter from the rain and Uni lecturers. I was seduced into removing it from a shelf of dull looking educational literature and novels you have to be over 75 to read. The gorgeously grotesque cover was enough to lull me into a false sense of security thinking I would only spend a few minutes reading it while waiting for my flatmates to arrive. How wrong I was this book is amazingly funny material and John Birmingham is a legend!! If there was a literary god of humour he would no doubt be..... Australian, and be full of 'life experiences' I kept turning the pages and before I knew what time it was I was being chucked out by a librarian (never thought I'd actually say those words). However it was incredibly difficult to get hold of a copy at the time, then in my quest to make it my own discovered a sequel 'Tasmanian Babes Fiasco' Again Fantastic!! Even better than the original!! I'm eagerly awaiting my copy of 'Weapons of Choice' & Dopetown. I know they won't disappoint. Can't praise enough!!! BUY! BUY! BUY!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars great Aussie student housing stories 16 May 2001
By A Customer
Format:Audio Cassette
The title of this book may be deceptive. This is not a murder, nor a horror story. It is a humorous, fast paced collection of student living stories. John Birmingham lived in a number of student houses in various Australian cities with a fantastic variety of people, most of whom had interesting and some might say frightening idiosyncrasies, which makes for some hilarious stories. Birmingham cleverly captures the mood of student houses where a bunch of young, poor, different and supposedly intelligent people have come together to live under one roof. Inevitably there are differences of opinion, some problems with hygiene and people who can't/don't pay the rent. The book also illustrates the lengths to which students will go to entertain themselves when they are sick of daytime television. Watch out especially for the tale of the cocktail party held by the pretty Tasmanian girls up the road, and the days of preparation that go into having one hell of an evening. A really good read for anyone that likes a good laugh.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Not for me 10 Sep 2012
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Having had my share of share houses this book caught my eye.
At first the book was a little interesting and I thought it had potential. However it is not very well written, it skips around in time and the stories just seem repetitive after a while.
Drugs, drinking and more drugs.
There are a couple of funny moments, but mostly it's just the same - "Yay we took loads of drugs, acted like twats and someone had a bad trip so I left the house". Maybe I'm being a little harsh as I had high expectations on the variety of the stories but it definetly wasn't for me.
If you read Mr Nice (I haven't seen the movie so can't compare) and liked it, you will probably like this book. If you thought Mr Nice was a tool, you probably won't like this book either.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars one of the best reads ever 11 Mar 2006
By A Customer
i had this book forced upon me a by my best mate, i loaned him some CDs and he gave me this in return, i wasnt interested, but he implored me to read it. after reading a few pages i was absolutely enthralled, the story outlines the experiences of a guy in australian shaehousing up and down the east coast throughout the 80s/90s and is set out in the form of a group of short stories that all tie in with one another, he even has anecdotes from former housemates that share or dispute his claims as well as giving accounts on different events from their own experience. i have read the book over and over as it is such a great read. get a hold of it somehow and see for yourself, pure brilliance
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5.0 out of 5 stars Absolutely hysterical. 20 Nov 1998
By A Customer
The intruiging title of this book led me to purchase it during a trip to Australia last year. The story deals mainly with losers sharing grotty housing in Brisbane, but sloppy habits are known the world over. I can recommend this book without reservation to all people who are seeking a good laugh (and NOT seeking shared accomodation--this book scared me off that idea for the rest of my life and made me profoundly thankful that I have never had to live in 'houseshare' conditions since college.) My favorite moment: The rat, of course. Not just ANY rat, though... A recommended, though not essential, prologue to the author's TASMANIAN BABES FIASCO, which I thought was even funnier.
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4.0 out of 5 stars A random buy 8 Feb 2014
By helen
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I didn't really enjoy the book because it didn't flow too well and I wasn't sure if it followed through too well. It's really random but I did give it to my sister and cousin afterward and they seem to like it. It really wasn't what I expected at all though!
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3.0 out of 5 stars I think I knew the bloke in the title! 11 Aug 2013
I had no idea of this when I got the book of course, but once I read the story it was all a bit familiar - same place, same sort of time, same name (though wouldn't the author change the name?), same method of demise. When my friend told me about his death she said 'at least he died with a smile on his face', I didn't hear about a falafel, so maybe it wasn't the same bloke!
Anyway, yes, this book is a trifle repetitive, and not really that funny. Mostly I found myself thinking 'what kind of idiot puts up with behaviour like that?' and then of course the answer is staring me in the face - other idiots and assorted f*** ups.
Absolutely true what he said about Sydney being full of young people who were ex heroin users though. I got thoroughly tired of hearing yet another 'I used it for a few months' story.
If I did not know a fair bit first hand about the milieu he is referring to I think I would have to give it only 2**, it is just not interesting enough for a whole book.
Best consigned to the loo for a quick read during a number 2!
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
2.0 out of 5 stars Cocaine's hell of a drug
I first felt inclined to read this book after an article appeared on the BBC website regarding terrible flatmates, and this was quoted. Read more
Published 18 months ago by Ben
5.0 out of 5 stars Should be required reading for students about to house share
These are the random notes of an australian who has a massive number of house mates over the years, and has kept notes on them all. Read more
Published 19 months ago by Kristin
5.0 out of 5 stars An easy read
Great fun and easy to read. Full of peps and sexy, funky anecdotes about flatsharing. A good laugh, but all this is supposed to be realistic and based on real life experiences!
Published on 30 Sep 2010 by cmarielle
4.0 out of 5 stars Makes you grateful for the houseshares you've had...
This second hand book arrived complete with crumbs between the pages, which only added to the experience of reading it! Read more
Published on 29 May 2009 by Hansierydercles
3.0 out of 5 stars amusing but patchy
An amusing account of housesharing in Australia. You may find yourself questioning the stories from time to time, since the same thing happened your best friend's brother's... Read more
Published on 15 Jan 2001
4.0 out of 5 stars Laugh out loud funny in a gross way!
This book made me howl with laughter in parts and in others made me feel physically queasy. It brought back some nasty memories of house sharing that would have been better left... Read more
Published on 19 Nov 2000 by Mrs. K. A. Wheatley
5.0 out of 5 stars Funny book, made my current house-share life seem better
Picked this book up at Dillons, during a touring visit of the UK. Very funny, especially since it helps me put my current housemate-from-hell problems in proportion. Read more
Published on 3 Jun 2000 by _
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