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A Good Man in Africa [Paperback]

William Boyd
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (50 customer reviews)
RRP: 8.99
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Book Description

30 Mar 2010

A Good Man in Africa is William Boyd's classic, prize-winning debut novel

Winner of the Whitbread Award and the Somerset Maugham Prize

Escapee from suburbia, overweight, oversexed ... Morgan Leafy isn't overburdened with worldly success. Actually, he is refreshingly free from it. But then, as a representative of Her Britannic Majesty in tropical Kinjanja, it was not very constructive of him to get involved in wholesale bribery. Nor was it exactly oiling his way up the ladder to hunt down the improbably pointed breasts of his boss's daughter when officially banned from horizontal delights by a nasty dose ...

Falling back on his deep-laid reserves of misanthropy and guile, Morgan has to fight off the sea of humiliation, betrayal and ju-ju that threatens to wash over him.

A Good Man in Africa is one of the greatest comic novels of recent times and will be loved by fansof Any Human Heart, as well as readers of Ben Macintyre, SebastianFaulks, Nick Hornby and Hilary Mantel

'Wickedly funny' The Times

'If a widening grim is the test of a novel's entertainment value in retospect, A Good Man in Africa romps home' Guardian

WILLIAM BOYD has received world-wide acclaim for his novels.They are: A Good Man in Africa (1981, winner of the Whitbread Award and theSomerset Maugham Prize) An Ice Cream War (1982, shortlisted for the 1982 BookerPrize and winner of the John Llewellyn Rhys Prize), Stars and Bars (1984), TheNew Confessions (1987), Brazzaville Beach (1990, winner of the McVitie Prizeand the James Tait Black Memorial Prize) The Blue Afternoon (1993, winner ofthe 1993 Sunday Express Book of the Year Award and the Los Angeles Times BookAward for Fiction, 1995), Armadillo (1998) and Any Human Heart (2002, winner ofthe Prix Jean Monnet).

He is also theauthor of a collection of screenplays and a memoir of his schooldays, SchoolTies (1985); and three collections of short stories: On the Yankee Station (1981),The Destiny of Nathalie 'X' (1995) and Fascination (2004). He also wrote thespeculative memoir of his schooldays, School Ties (1985); three collections ofshort stories: On the Yankee Station (1981), The Destiny of Nathalie 'X' (1995)and Fascination (2004). He also wrote the speculative memoir Nat Tate: anAmerican Artist -- the publication of which, in the spring of 1998, causedsomething of a stir on both sides of the Atlantic. A collection of hisnon-fiction writings, 1978-2004, entitled Bamboo, was published in October2005. His ninth novel, Restless, was published in September 2006 (Costa BookAward, Novel of the Year 2006) and his tenth novel, Ordinary Thunderstorms,published September 2009. His most recent novel is Waiting For Sunrise whichpublished in February 2011.

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A Good Man in Africa + An Ice-cream War (Penguin Decades) + Brazzaville Beach
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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: 2.1 x 12.9 x 19.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (50 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 14,832 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

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

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Imperfect but Hilarious Man 3 Jun 2007
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
5.0 out of 5 stars Grimly comic, desperately ironic 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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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A good picture of life in an African "colony" 24 Jan 2000
By Sara
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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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Highly recommended 7 Jan 2011
By Max
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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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars the more you read the better it gets 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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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
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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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent first novel 13 Aug 2002
By A Customer
Initially I wasn't sure I'd enjoy this book - it began to resemble a Tom Sharpe novel, however the comic situations were entirely more plausible and I defy anyone not to identify with the frustrations and indignities of being a subordinate and having to sort out someone else's problems. Morgan Leafy is a brilliant creation - an anti-hero who wins the reader's heart and sympathy. I look forward to reading more of William Boyd's work.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars great characters and made me feel I was there in ...
Very amusing, had me laughing out loud, great characters and made me feel I was there in Africa. Already a fan of William Boyd this book shows how versatile a writer he is.
Published 5 days ago by M A Collins
4.0 out of 5 stars NO FILM STAR HERO
Yes - A good fun read. It's refreshing to have the hero portrayed as a bit of a slob instead of a Pierce Bosnan "look alike" or similar.
Published 5 days ago by Swan
4.0 out of 5 stars A great read with fantastic characterisation and I enjoyed the fading...
A great read with fantastic characterisation and I enjoyed the fading colonial setting. B t w read also by Boyd Restless and Ordinary Thunderstorms. Best books I've read.
Published 8 days ago by Older& wiser
5.0 out of 5 stars Loved this very funny book
Loved this very funny book. Made me laugh out loud! It actually has a serious side too and surprises at the end. Read it! I don't want to give anything away.
Published 21 days ago by TJHC
4.0 out of 5 stars Lots of humour but weak plot
Boyd's first published novel. Not much of a plot, but a lot of humour and the excellent use of language at which Boyd is a master. Read more
Published 25 days ago by J. Lockwood
3.0 out of 5 stars Three Stars
Disapointing after Brazzaville Beach
Published 26 days ago by chris forrest
2.0 out of 5 stars Cary on Africa
This is a carry on Africa with some good authentic Africa parts lots of slapstick it was not what I expected .
Published 1 month ago by john sadler
1.0 out of 5 stars Gross
Awful blokey stuff, I can't see why a woman would want to read this. A real disappointment after reading some of his other books which I very much enjoyed.
Published 2 months ago by Jill Hubbard
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant
The author must surely be one of the very best writers in Britain today. His books, whether fiction or non-fiction, are always worth reading.
Published 2 months ago by Ure Ther
3.0 out of 5 stars I may have missed the point
Others in my book club liked this book. I just found the main character not in the least likeable and was not taken by the story at all.
Published 2 months ago by E H H Cull
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