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The Gone-Away World [Paperback]

Nick Harkaway
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (128 customer reviews)
RRP: 7.99
Price: 5.59 & FREE Delivery in the UK on orders over 10. Details
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Hardcover 26.42  
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Audio, CD, Audiobook, Unabridged 29.03  
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Book Description

29 Jan 2009

The Jorgmund Pipe is the backbone of the world, and it's on fire. Gonzo Lubitsch, professional hero and troubleshooter, is hired to put it out - but there's more to the fire, and the Pipe itself, than meets the eye. The job will take Gonzo and his best friend, our narrator, back to their own beginnings and into the dark heart of the Jorgmund Company itself.

Equal parts raucous adventure, comic odyssey and Romantic Epic, The Gone-Away World is a story of - among other things - love and loss; of ninjas, pirates, politics; of curious heroism in strange and dangerous places; and of a friendship stretched beyond its limits. But it also the story of a world, not unlike our own, in desperate need of heroes - however unlikely they may seem.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 592 pages
  • Publisher: Windmill Books (29 Jan 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0099519976
  • ISBN-13: 978-0099519973
  • Product Dimensions: 13.2 x 19.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (128 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 103,981 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

What? What can I possibly tell you? I was born in Cornwall. I live in London. I have the best wife imaginable, wonderful kids. My life is presently devoid of those meaningful traumas we're all supposed to believe are the seat of creative energy. I like Italian wine, Swiss skiing, English cheese and Belgian beer, deckled edges, Asian food, and writing. I don't like shellfish. They are yuck. A friend of mine recently told me she can't eat squid any more because squid are sort of charming and friendly, and now I feel guilty about calamari.

I care about things. Random things, unlikely things.

I'm a messy person.

I write on a variety of digital devices of varying antiquity. I like pens and paper, too.

I read widely, not in a very focused way. I retain knowledge in patterns rather than lists.

I really like spa hotels.

I'm not a fan of movies whose central theme is the lack of availability of root crops. This is a surprisingly large genre.

I once accidentally ate my breakfast next to a live tiger.

Product Description


"Its scope and ambition are extraordinary, its execution is often breathtaking, and its style is by turns hilarious, outrageous, devastating, hip and profound ... Hugely entertaining" (Independent on Sunday)

"Breathtakingly ambitious ... A bubbling cosmic stew of a book, written with such exuberant imagination that you are left breathless by its sheer ingenuity" (Observer)

"[A] post-apocalyptic triumph ... Immensely rewarding ... Genuinely terrifying" (The Times)

"A stunning debut" (Scotland on Sunday)

"Exuberant...Wildly inventive" (Michael Gove The Times)

Book Description

The literary debut of 2008 - part adventure, part comic opera, part geek nirvana

Inside This Book (Learn More)
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Front Cover | Copyright | Excerpt | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
31 of 34 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I'm confused more by the reviews than the book 16 Jun 2010
I just don't get all the criticism that has been levelled at this book: it is certainly one of the best books I have ever read. Don't get me wrong, it is complex, convoluted and verbose. These are precisely the things that make it superb. The book is very, very clever (which may explain why some people are so opposed to it); very, very violent (which may explain why some people are so opposed to it); very, very funny (which may explain why some people are so opposed to it) and very, very enjoyable (which probably doesn't explain why some people are so opposed to it, but you can never tell). Whenever I run out of books to read (which is often, since I read 3 to 4 books a week, if not more), I always come back to this and everytime i do I love it. After all, what's not to love? Ninjas, Pirates, post-apocalyptic world, very bad bad-guys, very bad good-guys, murder, kidnap, intrigue and social divide.

And did I mention funny? Because it really needs to be stated at least twice. Admittedly, the first time I read it, I needed to consult a dictionary more than once (and that's quite impressive- I'm rather wordy myself), and several times I needed to google up some reference or another. However, it was all worth it. I find myself waiting to see what Mr Harkaway puts out next. It's either going to be truly magnificent or complete and utter tosh. Either way, I'll give it a go!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The apocalypse has never been funnier 8 Jan 2012
"If we one day cease to exist, what will be remarkable is that we were ever here at all."

What I love about post-apocalyptic novels is that pretty much anything can happen in it. And it happens in John le Carre's Son's first novel.
At the beginning at the story, most of the the world has exactly done what the title says, gone away.The reasons for that happening, and how some of the world was saved by the Jorgmund Pipe seem to have something to do with a band of adventurers , who, as the story opens, are being called upon to save the world. Again.
The narrator recounts his schooling, his training in kung fu (with Master Wu), his student-politics days and his work at a top-secret military installation where they are building a fancy weapon. Then he is sent off to war, the fancy weapon is used, and the world goes all post-apocalyptic.
From there it goes all comic from horse/men monsters to "shark things with legs" and arguments about the use of sheep in the battlefield ("A warsheep would be a cross between a dolphin and a small, limber elephant." ). Evil ninjas("Ninjas are silly. They are the flower fairies of gong fu and karate." )and a pack of very strange but harmless mimes.("I have known heaven, and now I am in hell, and there are mimes." )

It's a beautiful love story too.I had to laugh out loud when a particularly boring and sentimental sequence before the climax is interrupted rudely by the lovable military combat instructor Ronnie Cheung, who calls everyone "Bumhole" and now insists, effectively, that they get on with the bloody story.(more Ronnie Cheung moments are needed ).
It's like Joseph Heller,-Stephen King,-Ben Elton,-Ian M Banks together writing a story...on drugs kind of novel.It's funny , intelligent, philosophical and after 200 pages into it I wished that it never will end.
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Gone Away Too-Quickly World 25 Jun 2008
By J. Charlesworth VINE VOICE
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I'm a fan of weird dystopian fiction, so I looked forward eagerly to receiving my copy of The Gone Away World for review. Apart from a few minor points, I found it to be a thoroughly enjoyable read- and a surprisingly quick one for such a thick volume. If you don't like deliberate eccentricity, then this is probably not a book you'll enjoy. If ninjas, mimes, student anarchists and shrew tachycardia make you giggle, then read on.

The tone of The Gone Away world can slightly frenetic, and it does feel a bit like spending time with a hyperactive and slightly pretentious teenager, but in the context of the post- and during apocalyptic world in question, this served to set the scene rather well. Harkaway is fond of descriptive passages that go off on tangents to the main story. I'm a biologist by training, so my inner nerd rejoiced at soliloquies on shrew tachycardia or the use of sheep in battle. I loved the narrator's descriptions of growing up in Cricklewood Cove, childish relationships and rumoured cannibal dogs, and Master Wu made me burn with the desire to take up Tai Chi; many details of the world drew me in and held me mesmerised. Others, such as the shrewdly observed student anarchists, made me snort. There were moments where The Gone Away World felt uncomfortably close to our own, and the weird mix of characters and humor revealed a lot more than I expected.

I can see how some of the descriptive writing could be described as froth, and is utterly tangential to the main story. However, the main story isn't why I read novels. As it stands, the apparently simple plot of The Gone Away World is revealed to be not so simple- delivering a whopping and highly original twist that I didn't see coming even when it had hit me over the head several times.
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Extraordinarily good first novel 28 Jan 2010
By Mark Shackelford TOP 1000 REVIEWER
Mixing a range of styles - from Joseph Heller's "Catch 22", through the wacky world of "Good Omens" by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett, to the attention to detail and plot complexity of "Cryptonomicon" by Neil Stephenson - this is a superb book.

A post apocalyptic vision of the Earth, with most of the planet contaminated by an Information Bomb that makes Matter "Gone Away", and populated by refugees from the "Mad Max" films - I thoroughly enjoyed the book, even the various flash backs into a kung fu childhood.

If you have enjoyed any of the above authors - give this a go.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars great read but confusing
I really enjoyed this btu to be honest I did got lost part way through in what happened between Gonzo and the main character.
Published 28 days ago by Martin Boniface
5.0 out of 5 stars was even better and I've just started re-reading that too
A stunning debut novel in a unique combination of science fiction, fantasy and humour (think PG Wodehouse). Read more
Published 2 months ago by John N. L. Morrison
2.0 out of 5 stars Looked good until I started reading it
Unfortunately this was not a book that suited me. I had looked forward to getting it thinking it would be a good read but sadly I just could not get into it and eventually gave up. Read more
Published 4 months ago by Oldsirhippy
2.0 out of 5 stars A Marmite book, I really didn't enjoy most of it.
From reading the reviews it seems that some loved and others hated this book. I'm more in the latter camp. Read more
Published 4 months ago by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars An absolute gem
This was an impulse purchase in a foreign bookstore, and is one of my favourite books now. The scene is set perfectly, and an immersive world is filled in throughout. Read more
Published 6 months ago by Will Davies
4.0 out of 5 stars A debut to applaud
John LeCarre's son (!!) has produced a remarkable first novel - a mixture of futuristic fantasy comedy romance and fairly butal warfare The protagonist is a likeable slacker in... Read more
Published 7 months ago by TGriff
5.0 out of 5 stars really enjoyed this
Funny dystopian fiction. Hard to describe briefly - it's the story of how the world went away and how some fine people brought it back.
Published 7 months ago by T. Adshead
4.0 out of 5 stars Well crafted
Quite discursive, but well-written and the premise develops in an interesting way over during the course of the book. Read more
Published 8 months ago by J. W. G. Maidment
4.0 out of 5 stars Complicated
A good book, takes a while to get used to the ideas but the character develops well and it's well written in decent English. Read more
Published 9 months ago by Graham Godfrey
5.0 out of 5 stars Sheer brilliance
I loved every chapter of this book. Be warned it is all very surreal, but the characters and entertaining writing sustain interest. I am waiting for his next novel.
Published 10 months ago by Traveller John
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Who should play Gonzo Lubitsch in a film of this book? 1 22 Sep 2008
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