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A Good Man in Africa Paperback – 25 Feb 1982

4.1 out of 5 stars 77 customer reviews

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Paperback, 25 Feb 1982
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Product details

  • Paperback: 341 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin; 1st edition (25 Feb. 1982)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140058877
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140058871
  • Product Dimensions: 17.8 x 2.5 x 12.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (77 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 780,416 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

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) --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From the Inside Flap

In the small African republic of Kinjanja, British diplomat Morgan Leafy bumbles heavily through his job. His love of women, his fondness for drink, and his loathing for the country prove formidable obstacles on his road to any kind of success. But when he becomes an operative in Operation Kingpin and is charged with monitoring the front runner in Kinjanja's national elections, Morgan senses an opportunity to achieve real professional recognition and, more importantly, reassignment.
After he finds himself being blackmailed, diagnosed with a venereal disease, attempting bribery, and confounded with a dead body, Morgan realizes that very little is going according to plan. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
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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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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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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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
What a brilliant novel! I first read it in the early 1980s, perhaps not long after it was first published, and thought it was marvellous. Thirty years later it still seems just as entertaining, with a dazzling mix of humour and tragedy, with a healthy dose of parody of the overwhelming self-satisfaction and unassailable rectitude of European diplomats in post-colonial West Africa.

Morgan Leafy, the central figure, is a brilliant creation. Dissolute, lazy and prey to rampant frustration, he spends most of his days struggling to get by doing as little as he can get away with. (I wonder why I identify with him so well!) He is, however, a decent man at heart, though for most of the book he finds little opportunity to demonstrate his inner qualities.

Life has not gone to plan for Morgan. As the novel opens he is in his third year in Nkongsamba , a quiet region in the hinterland of Kinjanja, an independent West African state that until recently had been under British suzerainty. He works for the odious Arthur Fanshawe who represents all the hidebound attitudes and prejudices that proliferated in the 1970s. Morgan is sinking into ever deeper despair: he is being blackmailed by an ambitious and relentlessly corrupt local politician, the woman whom he had had visions of marrying has just announced her engagement to his younger, better looking junior colleague, and he has contracted gonorrhoea. And then things start to get worse …

Boyd relates the story with his customary pellucid, gripping prose. This was his first novel but he seemed to hit mid-season form almost immediately. Morgan Leafy is not a particularly nice man, but Boyd conjures huge empathy for him as everything seems to go wrong. Corruption abounds.
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Format: Paperback
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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