The Business Paperback – 8 Jun 2000
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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
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)
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Top Customer Reviews
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….Read more ›
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.
The Business was an odd disappointment. I persevered through perhaps the first two thirds trusting that at any moment it would get interesting. After that point I started to think that might not happen. It didn't. Completely un-engaging, uninteresting plot, and not even very funny, unusually for Banks.
I'd say perhaps I missed something in this book, but I suppose the fact there are only three reviews here as I write this says something for such a popular author. Iain Banks was consistent, but even he had the occasional off year.
Interestingly the content is very contempary - it mentions pinochets detention in the uk for example. Its also odd reading about places that I know well - the buisness used to have offices in Blythswood square for example - just down the road from our offices...
There are two reasons that I have only given it four stars. The first is that although the attempt at a female protagonist is excellent there are one are two places where it didn't quite convince, and secondly it ended too early - although it would be interesting to have a follow up with a different character set against the events instigated by this book.
If you like Banks though rush out and buy this.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Mischievous and imaginative, just a stretch beyond credible. A pleasure to read and engaging. I was a tad disappointed with the ending, but maybe that's life!Published 4 months ago by Esk
Christmas gift for son in law who likes this author and asked for this title for a present. As I haven't read it I can't really comment sensiblyPublished on 22 Dec. 2013 by David S.
A very enjoyable and entertaining read from Iain Banks. I wouldn't rate it as highly as "The Crow Road" or "Compliciy", Both of which I loved, but I would certainly... Read morePublished on 13 Oct. 2013 by Vivienne Jenkins
A well written book or should I say another well written book by Ian Banks. As usual the way of writing is superb Banks twists and weaves a story and draws you in and his... Read morePublished on 8 July 2013 by ascu75
I was still waiting for the story to start when I reached the end of this dull-as-ditchwater piece of rubbish.Published on 3 April 2013 by Greg Withnail
I found the concept of a shady business shrouded in secrecy with far reaching global power appealing, and so started reading. Read morePublished on 14 Feb. 2013 by Mr. M. Read
A female hero with integrity and depth Kathryn Telman stormed through this deceptively cliched plot. Yes it's good against evil, but it's so much more. Read morePublished on 7 July 2012 by Mavis Moog