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Politics: A Novel Hardcover – September 30, 2003


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Harper; First Edition Signed By Author edition (September 30, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0007163665
  • ISBN-13: 978-0007163663
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 5.7 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 2.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,451,482 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In this nervy, self-conscious debut novel, British writer Thirlwell airs the unspoken anxieties and confusions of two lovers, crafting a talky deconstruction of a relationship. Moshe is a character actor, "the sketchy one, the sardonic one, the oddball cool"; Nana is an architecture student, "tall, thin, pale, blonde, breasty." It is the off-stage narrator, however, who is the book's most notable presence, with his countless digressions, "simple" theories, lengthy explanations and bossy directives. Despite his repeated assertions that the book is not about sex ("sex isn't everything"; "sometimes I think that this book is an attack on sex"), Moshe and Nana are constantly experimenting ("oral sex, use of alternative personae, lesbianism, undinism"), though their experiments usually end in failure. This is true of their biggest experiment, a three-way affair involving Anjali, an Anglo-Indian actor friend of Moshe's. Reading Thirlwell's novel is similar to watching a film with the director in the room, guiding the viewer through every scene. While many of the resulting narrative flourishes are clever or endearing, their humor and intellectual cachet wear thin as the ratio of window dressing to substance tips heavily in favor of the former. Still, Thirlwell's brave attempt to debunk the primacy of sex (while elaborately describing his characters' hapless pursuit of it) is surprisingly convincing.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From The New Yorker

In this début novel, sedulous dissection of a love affair involving a pair of young Londoners—who, with the addition of a female friend, become a threesome—serves as an occasion for playing with the old saw about the personal being political. Thirlwell, attempting to chart some sort of moral-aesthetic triangle bounded by Kurt Vonnegut, Martin Amis, and Milan Kundera, declares, "a threesome is the ultimate sexual unit. It is the socialist utopia of sex." The author makes enjoyable sport of the contemporary taste for porno-chic transgression, but, in repeatedly halting the narrative to liken his characters' callow problems, hesitancies, and dilemmas to episodes in the lives of Stalin, Mao, and Vaclav Havel, he sacrifices narrative engagement to the display of his own virtuosity.
Copyright © 2005 The New Yorker

Customer Reviews

2.6 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

9 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Kevin Killian HALL OF FAME on August 24, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Adam Thirlwell got named one of the top young novelists of England by Granta, a magazine which is always wrong. And he hadn't even written POLITICS yet at the time he got the nod.

Well here it is now, in a high-profile type of dust jacket that is cut off halfway down the jacket, to make it stand out from the other novels on the table at Barnes and Noble, and I bet it does very well. When you read POLITICS it makes you realize just how accomplished a writer Milan Kundera is, for in Kundera's hands this same storyline turned into THE UNBEARABLE LIGHTNESS OF BEING whereas when Thirlwall does it, it just sags down with the insecurities of the privileged girl at the center of the tale, the randy boy who wants to spice up their sex life with a menage a trois, and the kind of hapless actress, Anjali, who becomes the "June" in their own version of HENRY AND JUNE. Thirlwell is great when he's describing food, fashion and couture, and when he's telling stories about writers from the past he admires. And he does know quite a bit about the hoydenish behavior of young women desperately trying to please men unworthy of them. But all in all, even though the book is hot pink, and one's hands are drawn to touch it, hold it, caress it, make love to it, do yourself a favor and put it back on the shelf, uncut. Even a copy of GRANTA will prove more rewarding.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Jacques V. Hopkins on February 10, 2011
Format: Paperback
This is a dreadful book and I begrudged the time that I spent reading it. The author has adopted a precious prose style. He has also attempted to duplicate casual speech in the most annoying way. For instance, "Le mgo" for "Let me go." The more conventional approach would be "Lemme go." And consider this: the male lead referring to his being Jewish pronounces it "Joosh." I wouldn't object to attempting to mimic casual speech but it should be phonetically accurate.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By lizzie on December 23, 2004
Format: Hardcover
i loved this book, i actually read it in a day. i then gave it to my prudish boyfriend to read. it is quite a refreshing read. a lot of the writing might be about sex but i feel that adam is trying to take a humorous slant on the subject. one of the characters has never had an orgasm (which doesn't really bother her - oh yes its the female, suprise suprise!) the other is deeply insecure (the man - no wonder!) and yet they fall head over heels in love.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By D. Hubbard on August 15, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Adam Thirlwell's book is a novel different from almost anything out there. It gives much more credence to the insecurity and the uncomfortable attributes of any sexual relationship. The readers can laugh at Moshe's foibles (although the humor and comic digressions do begin to wear thin as the book drags on) but share in his insecurities about love.

Moshe, Nana, and Anjali's story is not unlike a story that happens to everyone at one time or another. Many people can identify what it is like to be in love (in at least one of the many connotations of the word) with two people at once. But Thirlwell's development of the consequences is somewhat lacking at tidiness. He serves quite appropriately at an uber-omniscient narrator, but his story's resolution is a little...predictable. As much as I enjoyed identifying with Moshe's crisis in the book, Nana's resolution to the crisis is somewhat unfulfilling. Perhaps, however, therein lies the point of the book. The most real stories sometimes have the least coherent endings. Perhaps a little more character development and plot would make the stories end more satisfying.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By PhillyBob on April 17, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I was hoping for a more intelligent and sensuous description of a menage a trois. But it was mostly just
embedded rantings about life.
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More About the Author

Adam Thirlwell was born in London in 1978. He is the author of two novels, Politics and The Escape, and a book on the international art of the novel, which won a Somerset Maugham Award. In 2003, he was chosen by Granta magazine as one of the Best Young British Novelists. His work is translated into 30 languages.

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