The remarkable bestseller from one of the giants of modern British literature -- at once an engrossing mystery and an unnerving vision of a society coming to terms with a life of unlimited leisure. / The hardback received an astonishing critical reception, confirming Ballard's position at the forefront of modern British fiction writing. / To be reissued to co-incide with the publication of Ballard's fantastic new novel 'Kingdom Come'. / Shortlisted for the Whitbread Novel Award.
J.G. Ballard was born in 1930 in Shanghai, where his father was a businessman. After internment in a civilian prison camp, he and his family returned to England in 1946. His 1984 bestseller 'Empire of the Sun' won the Guardian Fiction Prize and the James Tait Black Memorial Prize, and was shortlisted for the Booker Prize. It was later filmed by Steven Spielberg. His controversial novel 'Crash' has recently been made into an equally controversial film by David Cronenberg.
This new novel by the celebrated nihilist who brought us such underground classics as Crash and Concrete Island is fairly mild by Ballard standards. It involves kinky goings-on in a wealthy British resort community in Gibraltar, where there's not much to do but suntan, get high and play sex games. Narrator Charles Prentice is a travel writer who has been summoned to Estrella de Mar by his brother, the manager of the Club Nautico, who has confessed to setting a fire that killed five people in the villa of the wealthy Hollinger family. Charles knows Frank didn't do it, and so does everyone else, so Frank's motivation is a mystery. The delinquent shenanigans around town soon point to Frank's devoted tennis pro Bobby Crawford, who, with the missionary zeal of a sociopath, rouses the anesthetized residents of Estrella de Mar with violence and fear. "You've seen the future and it doesn't work or play. People are locking their doors and switching off their nervous systems. I can free them," Crawford says. Ballard keeps the dialogue snappy and true; however, the leisurely pace, the comings and goings of this Porsche and that BMW, all the swimming and tennis practice sap the novel of any tension. Moreover, Charles is a dud; the charge inherent in one of his first sentences, "My real luggage is rarely locked, its catches eager to be sprung," is never borne out by his actions or the relationship between him and his brother. Ballard's fascination with the illicit plays like a routine exercise, though his bleak picture of trouble in paradise has the ring of truth. (May)
'The arrival of a new Ballard novel has become a literary event. He is one of the few genuine surrealists this country has produced, the possessor of a terrifying and exhilarating imagination -- and a national treasure.' Guardian 'Britain's number one living novelist. This adds a glinting new facet to his achievement -- Ballard, detective-novelist extraordinary.' Sunday Times 'One of the few world-class British writers alive today.' Literary Review 'As thrillingly wired as ever! dazzlingly original.' Independent 'Utterly compulsive.' Sunday Telegraph