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The Business Paperback – 1 Nov 2001

93 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster; Reprint edition (1 Nov. 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0743200152
  • ISBN-13: 978-0743200158
  • Product Dimensions: 13.3 x 2.3 x 20.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 2.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (93 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,800,370 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Iain Banks came to widespread and controversial public notice with the publication of his first novel, The Wasp Factory, in 1984. He gained enormous popular and critical acclaim for both his mainstream and his science fiction novels. Iain Banks died in June 2013.

Product Description

Amazon Review

After the shock impact of the excellent The Wasp Factory in 1984, Iain Banks' work has split along two lines. On the one hand, he has written a series of acclaimed science fiction novels (with a devoted following, their own fan magazine and inclusion of his middle initial); on the other hand, a number of diverse, and eclectic, forays into contemporary fiction (for example, the successful television adaptation of The Crow Road).

The Business is the 1990s success story run riot. The eponymous organisation is ancient, rich and invisible. All it lacks is a certain political clout, something the Business has avoided for centuries but with which it is now beginning to toy. A seat in the UN is at stake as Kate Telman, Level 3 executive, is drawn into the (rather polite) machinations of her superiors. Those expecting John Grisham may be disappointed. No bad thing, perhaps: Kate's personal-professional life-- there is, of course, no conflict here for the successful individual of the 1990s--is the main concern. Banks' interest is in the moral debates about the position of the Business in a world it finds easy to manipulate, drawing the reader into a discussion of the place of the multi-national in contemporary economic and cultural life. "A lot of successful people are less hard-hearted than they like to think": is one view put forward, and not the only romantic but equivocal sentiment hiding somewhere in The Business. --John Shire --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

Consistently engaging....From its hilarious opening, a telephone conversation with a man who has lost his teeth, to the touching finale...it hardly misses a beat. SUNDAY TELEGRAPH ('Slick and streetwise. SUNDAY TIMES)

Bank s' ability to make you feel you're there remains as sharp as ever. TIME OUT ('.a slick, blend of thriller, dark comedy and offbeat love story, bursting with set pieces and sly wit. EMPIRE)

...Satisfyingly readable to the end (MAXIM)

THE BUSINESS is his tenth novel... and reveals no slackening in his imaginative energies (MAIL ON SUNDAY) --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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My name is Kathryn Telman. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

2.8 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Sally Ann Melia on 12 July 2014
Format: Paperback
I have read all of Iain Banks novels and this one is one of my favourites.

The Business from where the book gets its name is a centuries old concern, at one point in the novel it is suggested that its history stretches back as far as the Roman Empire, but the story postulates the compelling conceit that over centuries The Business has been built up with assets and resources that go beyond countries and national powers to influence every part of the world.

Unexpectedly, at the top of The Business is a strictly meritocratic management structure, and here we come to the main story which is that of Kate who by a chance encounter on a housing estate outside Coatbridge, Glasgow, was lifted out of dire poverty to become Kathryn Telman, a senior executive officer, third level (counting from the top).

I won't say much about the story, except to say it had me hooked from the very start. It keeps the reader interested by using a variety of styles, phone conversations, emails, interview extracts; but also by a globe spanning selection of locals from Texas to Tibet, Yorkshire to Geneva. When it comes to describing how the very wealthy and eccentric spend their money, Iain Banks is as ever witty and entertaining.

I think what I find compelling about this book is the character of Kat Telman, as always Iain Banks female heroines are excellent, and the overall story of not necessarily good vs evil, but greed vs the greater good. Also some interesting reflections on what makes a happy life.

Recommended.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By A. Warmington on 10 Aug. 2010
Format: Paperback
Iain Banks, once the most powerful fiction writer of his generation and author of two of my all time top 20 novels (The Wasp Factory and The Bridge), has been treading and water for many years and The Business is just more of this. Not as pointless as Canal Dreams or Dead Air, but nowhere near what he is capable of at his best.

Banks can't write badly (well at least he can't write fiction badly, lets leave it at that for now) and his ear for daft dialogue is still brilliant. The story rattles along and I was interested enough to keep going and finish it in three days. Unfortunately there is a 'but' here. It's that Banks is quite palpably making this up as he goes along and equally palpably, doesn't seem to care.

The end result is a story that lurches from one thing to another, switching plot pretty much every time it threatens to get truly absorbing, and Banks can't decide if he is writing a thriller, a Himalayan travelogue or a satirical expose of the amorality of big business. It ends up being none of the above and it was impossible to care much about the characters one way or another. I mustn't spoil things by revealing the ending, suffice to say it is daft.
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17 of 20 people found the following review helpful By mfl VINE VOICE on 25 Aug. 2003
Format: Paperback
The Business is a fair fairy story, at least in concept. There’s a prince seeking a princess, a Queen resigned to her bed for 25 years with a broken heart, a palace of a thousand rooms, snow-capped mountains, pied piper children, an all powerful James Bond style baddie organisation. And like any good fairy tale it tries to have a moral, arising from one hot pretext set just outside of reality. Banks lays it on thick but really fails to bridge the gap between fairy and really.
That pretext is the Business itself, founded in times before modern civilization. The problem, unusually for Iain Banks, is that there is a lack of grasp of what this story is all about. Is it a licence to discredit the misty corporate world of international business? Is it about surviving on overhwhelming capitalist power through duplicity? Is it about human relationships, disrupted intimacy, and misplaced loyalty? Or is it just about a prince seeking a princess?
By the end, there aren’t any answers. You are left feeling a little cold in the Himalayas.
But it’s just such a great idea for a book. The shame is nothing of that mysterious corporate world is uncovered. The Business has worldwide influence and domination. It’s rich and powerful. It seeks a seat at the United Nations by buying up under nourished and unknown nations. Kate is the ambitious Level Three executive at its heart. Yet most of the 400 pages are devoted to her globe trotting and excruciating detail about her in-flight experiences; buying clothes; meeting whoever….
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Format: Paperback
Though having read sixteen other Banks novels (four of which have been without the "M."), I must say that The Business is the most linear plot thus far, almost bordering on vapid when taken in its general sense like looking at a lifeless body, but its pulse can be found upon close inspection, which reveals a growing characterization of the heroine/femme fatale Kate Telman. The backdrop for Kate's growth isn't only The Business where she is employed, but it's also the entire world with financially impoverished fictional countries whose warm innocence and charm can melt the icy facade of a corporate queen.

Rear cover synopsis:
"Kate Telman is a senior executive officer in The Business, a powerful and massively discreet transglobal organization whose origins predate the Christian Church. Financially transparent, internally democratic, it want to buy its own State to gain a seat at the United Nations.

Kate's job is to keep abreast of current technological developments and her global reach stretches from Silicon Valley to the remote Himalayas. In the course of her journey Kate must peel away layers of emotional insulation and the assumptions of a lifetime. She must learn to control the world at arm's length.

To take control, she has to do The Business."

Kate was raised in western Scotland by an alcoholic and careless mother, which left Kate to find her own street-smarts while mum was away. On one fateful occurrence when she was eight years old, Kate was approached by an older lady. Kate's effortless business skills and cleverness impressed the lady, who organized a meeting with the mother. Thereafter, their lives improved with her mother getting steady jobs and Kate getting an excellent schooling--all for free.
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