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A Good Man in Africa Paperback – 30 Mar 2010

64 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin; Re-issue edition (30 Mar. 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0141046899
  • ISBN-13: 978-0141046891
  • Product Dimensions: 12.7 x 2 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (64 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 45,359 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

William Boyd is the author of ten novels, including A Good Man in Africa, winner of the Whitbread Award and the Somerset Maugham Award; An Ice-Cream War, winner of the John Llewellyn Rhys Prize and shortlisted for the Booker Prize; Brazzaville Beach, winner of the James Tait Black Memorial Prize; Any Human Heart, winner of the Prix Jean Monnet; Restless, winner of the Costa Novel of the Year, the Yorkshire Post Novel of the Year and a Richard & Judy selection, and most recently, the bestselling Ordinary Thunderstorms.

(Photo credit: Eamonn McCabe)

Product Description

Review

"This is a wildly funny novel, rich in witty prose and raucous incidents . . . without qualification, a delight." -"The Washington Post ""Entertaining and successful . . . a champion storyteller. His prose style is intelligent, vigorous and pleasant." -"The New York Times Book Review" "Comic realism echoing Evelyn Waugh . . . nimbly plotted, gracefully written . . . Boyd had endowed British fiction with a welcome depth and liveliness." -"New York Newsday ""A gutsy writer . . . William Boyd is good company to keep." -"Time"""

About the Author

William Boyd was born in Ghana in 1952. He was brought up there and in Nigeria. He was educated at the universities of Nice, Glasgow and Oxford. He is the author of a number of acclaimed and hugely popular novels and three volumes of short stories, and the recipient of many prizes, including the Whitbread First Novel Award, the John Llewellyn Rhys Memorial Prize, the James Tait Black Memorial Prize and the Sunday Express Book of the Year Award. He is married and lives in London

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Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

19 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Leyla Sanai on 3 Jun. 2007
Format: Paperback
Morgan Leafy works for the Deputy High Commissioner Fanshawe in Nkongsamba, capital of the mid-west region of the Western African country of Kinjama. When we meet Leafy, he is festering with rage - hatred for the hot, humid, dead-end place he has been posted to for the last few years, simmering resentment for his junior colleague Dickie Dalmire, a thoroughly pleasant plummy Ox/bridge graduate who has swanned in and impressed both Fanshawe and his daughter Priscilla on whom Leafy had designs, and impotent teeth-grinding fury at the dour Scottish university doctor Murray whose dry professionalism thwarts Leafy's sense of entitlement and attempts to slide under various official gates. Leafy is a hilarious character, as funny in his boiling, exploding fury as Basil Fawlty. He is selfish, jealous and covetous yet he is a fascinating character. The book is far more light-hearted and unamibitious than Boyd's later novels but the familiar Boyd wit and eloquence and strong, vivid characterisation are evident, making this a riotously funny comedy of errors pitched halfway between the sharp, innocent drolery of PG Wodehouse and the more lecherous romping laughs of Kingsley Amis. Unlike Kingsley's protagonists, though, the reader gets the impression that Boyd recognises the faults of his hero and doesn't condone them. Intriguingly, Boyd has said that the crisp man of few words characterisation of Murray was based on Boyd's father, who was also a doctor in Africa.

A great light read.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Brian Levine on 29 Aug. 2007
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Morgan Leafy is the overweight and morally questionable first secretary of the British High Commission who suffers from an interminable lack of self-esteem which manifests in himself allowing others to manipulate him until the point when he cracks...

The comedy is wince-making because it is more at Morgan's expense, generally, than any other's, and it is a cynical satirical look at the mess of Africa from the perspective of someone who is paid to understand it but really doesn't have a clue. Bribery, corruption, cuckolding, gonhorrea and pidgeon English meld the story into a tour-de-force of little-mindedness and cowardice, stiff-upper-lipped sacrifice and closed-minded stupidity.

It's just wonderful!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By H. Lacroix on 3 May 2008
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
At first I thought I wouldn't enjoy this book, most of the characters being really hard to like, from the main protagonist Morgan, inefficient, jealous, often mean-minded, to his arrogant, overbearing and pompous boss Fanshawe. And then , Boyd weaves his magic. He makes us understand how Morgan became the way he is, we share all the disappointments that made him bitter and sarcastic...And, I have to admit, the people he portrays are a lot more like real life than selfless heroes and put upon heroins who suffer with great calm and endurance.Each of us can see some of their flaws mirrored in some character and though that might not make comfortable reading it is quite salutary to remind ourselves how mean-spirited,selfish and conniving we can be.
And the comedy is really entertaining so, a complete change of heart from the moment I started on the first pages. By the time I reached the end, I was sorry to let it go...
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Max on 7 Jan. 2011
Format: Paperback
I loved this book. I loved the main character, Morgan Leafy, with all his imperfections, uselessness, black moods...but I think, after all, deep down Morgan is a good man. And as you go by reading the book you realize where all his bitterness comes from: coming from a working class family doesn't certainly help in the snobbish environment of the British diplomatic world of the seventies of last century. The description of the Britons living in Africa are is also very funny and, I suspect, worryingly accurate since the author was born in Africa from British parents and must know that sort of environment pretty well. The ending is highly dramatic and just adds to the merits of this book. I loved this novel and will never tire of recommending it.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Sara on 24 Jan. 2000
Format: Paperback
The book gives a perfect idea of how life could be for an "expat" in Africa who isn't too happy to be where he is and can't adapt to the place. It is ironic, and well written. I had fun while reading it and I could feel the atmosphere of the places Boyd describes in the novel.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 18 April 2001
Format: Paperback
Boyd's first novel conjures up life in Africa in a hellhole of a diplomatic posting, with all the expertise of an accomplished Juju man - Boyd was described to me as a magic mix of Rider Haggard and Auberon Waugh. I wondered if I would fulfill my longheld ambition to die of laughter. Boyd has written a masterpiece which evokes Africa, its politicians, its western diplomats struggling to understand what can never be understood, all in a souffle of heat-induced lust amidst an Old Testament collection of servants. Priceless tonic of wild humour for the soul!
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Alexis Paladin on 25 Nov. 2011
Format: Paperback
I feel a bit guilty only giving this three stars. I think the problem is that the first William Boyd book I read was Any Human Heart which ranks among the most powerful, moving and well-constructed books I have ever come across. Consequently I guess, his other works are always going to struggle by comparison. Perhaps if I had read this, Boyd's first work written in 1981, first, I would have appreciated it rather more. In fairness to him there are not many writers around today with the versatility to turn their hand to serious literary studies of the human condition such as Any Human Heart, fast paced thrillers like Restless and light, knockabout quintessentially English comedies such as this. As other reviewers have said if books by writers like Tom Sharpe and Kingsley Amis about upper-class English society and mores featuring put-upon, affable twits float your boat then you will probably enjoy this too. In Morgan Leafy Boyd gives us an inconsequential, thoroughly second-rate diplomat who is not particularly endearing but who will almost certainly make you chuckle as he blusters his way through petty political crises and compromising sexual situations galore. Just don't expect any meaningful revelations about the psyche of the isolated diplomat or even any exploration of the ambiguities of late 20th-century colonialism, because you won't get them. Fun but ultimately forgettable. Sorry William.
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