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Boxer, Beetle: A Novel Paperback – September 13, 2011

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 246 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury USA; Reprint edition (September 13, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1608196801
  • ISBN-13: 978-1608196807
  • Product Dimensions: 5.7 x 0.7 x 8.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (43 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #513,711 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


Shortlisted for the 2010 Guardian First Book Award

Shortlisted for the 2011 Desmond Elliott Prize

"A premise as wonderfully outlandish as any we’ve seen in a long while... oddball and rambunctious... funny, raw and stylish." – New York Times
"An ebulliant and thrilling narrative... Irreverent, profane, and very funny. Best of all, [Beauman] writes prose that, like Chabon's, has the power to startle, no small feat in a debut." —Publishers Weekly, starred review
"First-novelist Beauman, who is just 26 years old, has concocted a bizarre and funny mystery that is filled with eccentric scholarship... Those seeking something completely different will be amply rewarded." —Booklist, starred review

"The story wonderfully mocks eugenics and fascism, while the writing bursts with imaginative metaphors... Quirky, comical, brilliant." —Kirkus Reviews

"First novelist Beauman has created a romp across the decades, with quirky characters and a complex, darkly humorous story." —Library Journal
“Perhaps the most politically incorrect novel of the decade—as well as the funniest.” —Sunday Telegraph 
“Brilliant… I can only gape in admiration at a new writing force.”—Daily Mail
“Beauman strides where lesser writers wouldn’t dare tiptoe. Maintains a high wire balance between giddy vulgarity, metafiction, and the sadness of being alive.”—Melvin Jules Bukiet, author of After and Strange Fire
“Witty, erudite… articulate and original…often gobsmackingly smutty.” —Time Out London
“Frighteningly assured.” —Independent on Sunday
“Beauman writes with wit and verve.” —Financial Times
“Prodigiously clever and energetically entertaining.”—Guardian
“Many first novels are judged promising. Boxer, Beetle arrives fully formed: original, exhilarating, and hugely enjoyable.”—Sunday Times 
“Dazzling…As in P.G. Wodehouse and the early Martin Amis the tone is mischievous and impudent.” —Daily Express
“A heart-stoppingly creative debut. He snares you with a new hook every page.” —Simon Rich, author of Ant Farm
“His killer irony evokes early Evelyn Waugh…the funniest new book I’ve read in a year or two.” —Independent
“A rambunctious, deftly plotted delight.” —Observer

About the Author

Ned Beauman was born in 1985 and studied philosophy at Cambridge University. He has written for Dazed & Confused, AnOther Magazine, the Guardian, the Financial Times, and several other magazines and newspapers. He lives in London and is is at work on his second novel. Visit

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Customer Reviews

Anyway, this is an interesting book and a quick read.
BJ Fraser
The charachters seemed oddly twodimensional and cliched, I never really believed in the action, and found myself skipping pages to get to the end.
Beauman's writing is witty and clever, with plenty of acrobatic similes and metaphors.
Itamar Netzer

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Reckless Reader on December 11, 2011
Format: Paperback
I admit it -- I usually read to be edified.
I can't say I accomplished this with this particular book.
I don't know that I learned anything from it that I did not know.
But what a fabulous read!
Seldom do I read a book that is beautifully written, full of erudition, and both funny and serious at the same time.
This book accomplishes all this and more -- it's a splendid portrait of the nutty fascist elite of '30's England and its whack eugenics theories;
and it's a wonderful portrait of the working class East End Jewish community of the '30's;
and it's also a wonderful look at collectors of our time, hidden away in their bedroom and basements, searching through the Internet endlessly,
to either find the goods they want, or the people they want to plague.
All together GREAT PLEASURE, GREAT FUN to read!
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Louie's Mom on October 2, 2011
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I like books that give you a glimpse of the thinking of people in other times - and this one certainly does. The author moves back and forth between a murder mystery in the present involving a man who collects Nazi memorabilia and the period between the first and second World Wars. The 1930's portion of the story revolves primarily around the eugenics movement, while also touching on anti-semitism, brutality, and the excitement of scientific discovery.

The prose is excellent. However, it's a challenging book for a reader as the characters, though interesting, are consistently and relentlessly selfish and sometimes horrifying - there aren't any situations where one of the characters "rises above it all." But at no point did I find it predictable - and that (to me) is one of the characteristics of good writing.

I would not argue with giving it five stars. However, as a reader I'm disappointed when I read the end of a book and the way it ends immediately strikes me as similar to a Hollywood movie - overdone, and possibly designed to attract the attention of a producer in order to sell the movie rights. I don't mean this as an accusation that this is the reason the author wrote the ending the way he did - it's unfair to assume to know what someone "meant" by an action, a statement or a chapter. If someone's intent is important to you, you should ask. If I ever meet the author I'll ask him. However, many readers will enjoy the ending and likely find it funny in a sick-funny kind of way. Sick funny isn't funny - for me - so I gave it four instead of five stars.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This book isn't for everyone, but then, what book is?

The story entwines two timelines: one of a Nazi-era entomologist and a young Jewish boxer in Nazi Germany, and the other of a modern-day Nazi memorabilia collector with trimethylaminuria, The story is engaging though can bog down a bit here and there. The story ping-pongs between these two lines, which clearly must be related, but we are given only pieces that don't all fall into place until the end. This is a characteristic of another Beauman book, The Teleportation Accident. After reading that book I thought his style was remarkably similar to Neal Stephenson. Another similarity is that both authors send me on frequent visits to the dictionary, although in Beauman's case much of his vocabulary is peculiar to British English and appears that much more arcane to my American eyes. I discovered only later that in an interview with the Guardian that Beauman said, " favourite book when I was growing up, for a long time, was Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson....I'm sure that's found its way permanently into my mode of writing."

Another device used a few times is to show one character's point of view leading to an event, then backtrack and show what was happening at the same time to another character approaching the same event. This is a very effective device when you understand what the author is doing, but there is no clear signal that you have backtracked and are now tracing the same timeline from a different perspective. You don't realize until you have reached the event for a second time that you were seeing another perspective, rather than watching the story marching forward chronologically.
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4 of 6 people found the following review helpful By W. Sanders VINE VOICE on August 13, 2011
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Ned Beauman's book has much in common with a jewelry box full of precious pieces made up of gold, diamonds, rubies and silver but not a lot of order. The story centers around a set of characters who have different goals that drive the story. Key among them are the narrator Kevin "Fishy" Broom who collects Nazi memorabilia and is afflicted by trimethylaminuria, a disease that emits a fish-smell; a short (five feet) Jewish, thuggish, homosexual boxer, Seth "Sinner" Roach; and Phillip Erskine a British Fascist eugenics entomologist who is working on breeding the perfect beetle whose flapping wings display a swastika.

The book bounces back and forth between current day Great Britain, Britian and the US in the 1930s and even a dip back to the 1880s. Reading the book struck me as an episodic novel on the one hand and reading the numbered paragraphs from works like Nietzsche's Will to Power or Ludwig Wittgenstein's Philosophical Investigations on the other. Within these pages is a thread that examines the quest for (or threat of) order and the capacity of the human spirit to rise above it or sink (or be sunk) below it. The obsession with order has its own chaos, and Beauman charts that period of history where totalitarians ruled much of the Western world. In one of the more engaging paradoxes, Fish's boss is described as liking disruption,

"But disruption of a special sort. We think of disruption as the assault of the scribble into the grid, of the illegible on the legible; what Grublock achieved was exactly the opposite."

The disruption is the imposition of a soulless order--that of the Fascist, the eugenists, the urban planner and the Bauhaus movement (which was flattered by Nazis in their dislike of it).
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