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Indecent Exposure, Tom Sharpe - Indecently funny!
on 14 January 2011
Tom Sharpe's second novel returned to the fertile ground of South Africa and the characters of Konstabel Els, Lieutenant Verkramp and Kommandant Van Heerden. Following from the events of `Riotous Assembly', this follows the three leads as they unintentionally wreak havoc across the peaceful suburbs of Zululand.
This is an absolutely hilarious book. Sharpe's real skill is to take seemingly innocuous situations, then, logical step by seemingly logical step morph them into a bizarre and screamingly funny situation. All the steps seem sane and logical, but the end result is as far from it as you can get.
As well as the anarchic humour, there is the serious side. Part of what makes Sharpe's South African books stand out so much above the rest of his oeuvre is his study of the people and attitudes of that place and time. When I first read these as a teenager I could not believe that these were real characters with their casual racism and paranoias. I thought that these were caricatures with attitudes exaggerated for comic effect. I have, over the intervening years, learned that such people really do exist. Sharpe performs an important job by exposing the South Africa of the time for what it was, and satirising it so well.
An excellently written, eminently readable, hilariously funny book with a serious message buried under the laughs. Five stars, six if I could.