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Not Untrue and Not Unkind Paperback – 2 Apr 2009

4.1 out of 5 stars 13 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin; Open market ed edition (2 April 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1844881857
  • ISBN-13: 978-1844881857
  • Product Dimensions: 15.3 x 2.1 x 23.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,816,899 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

'A fine, darkly authoritative novel' - Joseph O'Neill, author of NETHERLAND 'Fantastic writing, great subject; a voice that is both passionate and cold. The most exciting first novel I have read in many years' - Anne Enright, Man Booker Prize winning author of THE GATHERING

Review

'A fine, darkly authoritative' --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

4.1 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
A wonderfully authentic novel set in the morally muddled world of foreign correspondents covering Africa. Not sure this man O'Loughlin has written a book before but he surely must again. Not Untrue and Not Unkind takes us from the spume-flecked breakwaters protecting the port of Dublin to the chaos of African conflict on a journey of private discovery. It is much more than a journalists' tale, touching on the ambition, vanity, guilt and anger that drives us all.
A chance discovery in the drawer of dead newspaper colleague, the sort of man who never travels beyond the office but whose fearsome reputation terrifies reporters around the globe, of a private file reopens old wounds. It takes us back to the start of a reporter's career when the job was all about principle and ideals. But as Owen Simmons flies into his first African story - the post-Rwandan mess in the eastern Congo - he is forced to make compromises.
This is a book written with great authority - not least because O'Loughlin worked Africa in the 1990s as a reporter. We learn what snacks foreign correspondents subsist on in the developing world (cheese and onion Pringles, no less) and how satellite phones have brought stark immediacy where reporters once had time to cogitate and compose.
But it is also written with beauty and poise that does justice not just to the African landscape where it is set but to anyone who has ever dreamt of making a difference.
Buy this book. You won't be disappointed.
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Format: Paperback
I'm not sure I'd have read this had it not been for the Booker longlisting, as I found the jacket drab and the title didn't grab me (it turns out to be a quote from a Philip Larkin poem). But I found this a quite astonishing first novel - as accomplished a book as you'd expect from any of the writers with whom he shares the Booker Prize longlist. Since I finished it I can't stop thinking of Owen Simmons, and the team of cynical, war-weary foreign correspondents with whom he chases conflict in late 1990s Africa. The book is dark and furious; there's no redemptive happy ending, no heroics (at least, when people act like heroes, it's usually from distinctly unheroic motives), and the African conflict is an integral part of the narrative, and not just the backdrop for the lives of glamorous Europeans. It's as complex and messy as the country it describes, shot through with mordant humour, and written in the most beautiful prose. Not an easy read, but a rewarding one that will stay with you for a long time.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
The author's first book, it largely covers his biography as a reporter covering African conflicts. The focus is much more on life as a reporter than the conflicts being covered, although the first hand coverage does provide the odd 'colour' element from the conflicts, too.

The book is quite hard hitting in terms of not glorifying the profession and in terms of being rather scathing of certain types of reporters or networks. It also shows how interest in conflicts, and continents as a whole has been waning over time - also consequently leading to a corresponding loss in quality of coverage.

At the same time the camaraderie between reporters is a large part of the book, as are the relationships. The author has a good way of telling the story and is nuanced enough not to unduly make himself appear as the hero. Some difficult personal issues have been tackled, too, and in a way it seems it was as much written for the author to come to terms with events, as for the audience.

Overall, if you have an interest in Africa, or war reporting, the book is a good place to go. It does tell of another era and it has much going for it, even if it does not quite reach the level of a Kapuscinski. As for the author, his subsequent book, a lightly fictionalized war on terror account - Toploader - is truly brilliant and I can only recommend it.
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Format: Hardcover
I just finished reading this book and I must say that I savored every page. I first learned of it through the Booker prize longlist. The author has captured human nature in an extraordinary way - it is piercing, and unvarnished and honest. The writing is powerful, strong and unique. A number of quotes in the book just stick with me. Here's one of those quotes - where the main character Owen finds himself in a awkward conversation with a co-worker of his and makes this observation: "There would be nothing I could do about it, I knew that in advance. But only in chess do people resign when they know things are hopeless. In life we use up all our pieces first."

There is an incredible atmosphere in the book - and a gritty realism that just pulls you in. I heartily recommend this book, and I look forward to Ed O'Loughlin's next one.

If you like this book, you may also enjoy Arturo Perez-Reverte's Painter of Battles.The Painter Of Battles It is about a world-weary war correspondent haunted by his experiences.
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Format: Hardcover
A well balanced and well paced novel with believable characters and interesting settings. The story switches between the present - which sees narrator Owen working an unfulfilling desk job for a newspaper - and Owen's more exciting past as a war correspondent in Africa. The dialogue and situations managed to be true to life yet still interesting. I enjoyed the sections set in Africa most, but the UK chapters were kept interesting by the mystery surrounding the dead proofreader Cartwright.

There were a couple of sections in the book where a little more information would have been welcome - understatement in writing is generally a good thing but here I sometimes found myself a bit baffled or feeling that there was a gap. However, this doesn't detract from the overall story arc which works well and keeps the reader interested throughout. Several sections are moving and hard-hitting, describing life in war torn African states with level-headed empathy.

But underlying the exotic setting and sometimes dramatic events, is the theme of friendship, loneliness and the need to belong. O'Loughlin writes relationships and dialogue very well, and this makes his portrayals of the group of journalists at the core of story endless fascinating and real.

It's a well written story which I think most lit fic readers would enjoy. It misses the five star rating not because of any great flaw, but more because it lacks a certain special something to elevate to the highest level. Saying that, I've a feeling this is the sort of book that will stick in the mind and grow on you, so maybe looking back I'd rate it higher.
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