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The Gone-Away World (Vintage Contemporaries) Paperback – August 11, 2009


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Product Details

  • Series: Vintage Contemporaries
  • Paperback: 592 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage (August 11, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0307389073
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307389077
  • Product Dimensions: 8.1 x 5.2 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (162 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #77,217 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

This unclassifiable debut from the son of legendary thriller author John le Carré is simultaneously a cautionary tale about the absurdity of war; a sardonic science fiction romp through Armageddon; a conspiracy-fueled mystery replete with ninjas, mimes and cannibal dogs; and a horrifying glimpse of a Lovecraftian near-future. Go Away bombs have erased entire sections of reality from the face of the Earth. A nameless soldier and his heroic best friend witness firsthand the unimaginable aftermath outside the Livable Zone, finding that the world has unraveled and is home to an assortment of nightmarish mutations. With the fate of humankind in the balance, the pair become involved in an unlikely and potentially catastrophic love triangle. Readers who prefer linear, conventional plotlines may find Harkaway overly verbose and frustratingly tangential, but those intrigued by works that blur genre boundaries will find this wildly original hybrid a challenging and entertaining entry in the post-apocalyptic canon. (Sept.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From School Library Journal

Harkaway has created a monster. Although his debut has been compared to the work of Joseph Heller and Kurt Vonnegut, this epic novel shares with them only the elements of war, satire, and irony (and a few references to Vonnegut's line, "And so it goes..."). This story is more concerned with the fantastical and supernatural underpinnings of war in a futuristic, technologically superior world in which there's a new weapon that wipes out enemies by making them "go away." Many bad side effects ensue, and an eclectic team of soldiers-turned-action heroes is hired to fix them. It's a futuristic doomsday tale of sorts, but it's also the story of an average guy, Gonzo, who must save both the world and a part of himself (literally) several times. The first part is a bit confusing without the later context. However, its humorous parts, mostly in the form of tangents and its accounts of sentimentality among manly men, are a lot of fun to read. Prepare for a multifaceted ride, a mixture of Apocalypse Now and Fight Club. Recommended only for larger public libraries. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 5/1/08.]—Stephen Morrow, Athens, OH
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

More About the Author

Nick Harkaway was born in 1972, a distinction he shares with Carmen Electra (allegedly), a collection of indifferent wines, Pink Floyd's "Dark Side of the Moon" album, and a company which makes guttering in Pietermaritzburg. He is tall and has a shaggy and unkempt look about him which even the best grooming products cannot entirely erase. His eyebrows were at one time wanted on a charge of ruckus and affray in the state of Utah, but this unhappy passage has now been resolved.

He is the author of The Gone-Away World, Angelmaker (and the accompanying e-short, Edie Investigates), and the non-fiction book The Blind Giant. His third novel, presently untitled, will appear in 2014. BBC Books have also commissioned him to write a Doctor Who story for the Time Trips series to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the show.

He likes: Italian red wine, unlikely clothes, Chinese food, good-humoured anecdotes, Argentine Tango, Swiss cheese, American burgers, carving skis, alpine snowboards, P G Wodehouse, Alexandre Dumas, and blonde human rights lawyers. Well, all right, one blonde human rights lawyer in particular, to whom he is married, and with whom he has two perilous infants.

He does not like shellfish. They look at you with those eyes.

He has in his time studied a variety of martial arts, and can confidently claim to be the worst open-handed pugilist on the face of this green Earth.

Customer Reviews

Very well written with a great sense of narrative.
Reader in the Caribbean
For a book to keep my interest I need a good introduction, something to really grab me and hook me and make me want to find out just what in the world is going on.
Otto Correct
In fact the book is full of things that seem like asides or diversions or unrelated subplots that turn out to be significant in the end.
W. Doyle

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

51 of 57 people found the following review helpful By Susan Tunis TOP 500 REVIEWER on September 25, 2008
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I'm a reader given to pronouncements like: I hate science fiction. And for the most part it's really not my cup of tea. Well, The Gone Away World is undeniably science fiction, and it is the most interesting novel I've read in quite some time. The back copy on the galley I read compared it to Kurt Vonnegut meets Joseph Heller meets Mad Max. I immediately assumed that was hyperbole of the worst kind, but damn if that doesn't sum it up perfectly!

How can I describe the plot? As the novel opens, we're in a post-apocalyptic version of the world we know. We meet our first-person narrator and his team of trouble-shooting compatriots. Something possibly disastrous has happened, and they're off to save the day--as long as they'll be adequately compensated for the job. That's what they do. They're the Haulage & Hazmat Emergency Civil Freebooting Company of Exmoor County, a tight-knit group of life-long friends and war buddies.

The first chapter was about 30 pages, and I have to admit it was very strange and confusing, but undeniably funny. After that first chapter set in the novel's present, the clock is rolled back several decades, and the next 275 pages tells the life story of the unnamed narrator. And suddenly the book became far more accessible, because there were references to things like Elvis Presley and Tupperware. It was a world I could recognize. And gradually all the weird stuff from the first chapter was explained. What was the "Go Away War," why it was called that, and how the radically altered (not for the better, I can assure you) world came to be. It's a strange, deeply disturbing story leavened with a lot of humor and some wonderfully whimsical and likeable characters.
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44 of 52 people found the following review helpful By Benjamin on August 20, 2008
Format: Hardcover
With all the promotion accompanying the publication of this book the story probably needs little introduction? However just in case: it is set in Britain in the not very distant future. We join the story and after the Go-Away War when civilisation relies upon and lives within reach of the globe encircling Jorgmund Pipe; and who knows what inhabits the regions beyond its reach? Problem: the pipe is on fire and professional trouble-shooter and all-round hero Gonzo Lubitsch and his crew are hired to extinguish the fire - but there is more to the fire, and the pipe than it seems. As we follow the charismatic Gonzo and his best friend (our apparently happily married narrator) in their exploits the story takes us back to their childhood and the time before the Go-Away War; we learn of the origins of their friendship, follow them to university and through military service and their subsequent involvement in the Go-Away War. Then we pick up the story again post-War; and this is when we learn of the effects of the fall-out, as well as more about the mysterious Jorgmund Company; we gradually understand the disastrous mess of a world which the Jorrmund Pipe appears to dominate and sustain.

But what really makes this book something special is the quality of the writing. It is writing of such eloquence it simply demands to be read. Nick Harkaway (son of spy thriller writer John le Carré aka David Cornwell) juxtaposes the ordinary and the absurd with such naturalness that we almost don't question it; we might just pass it by if it were not so hilariously funny at times; such is the writer's skill.
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28 of 34 people found the following review helpful By Kevin Nieman on September 1, 2009
Format: Paperback
In the early Summer of 2009, I heard an National Public Radio segment on summer book recommendations made by librarian, Nancy Pearl. In the piece she talks about Nick Harkaway's "The Gone-Away World" by saying this:

"I refuse to reveal much about Harkaway's outstanding first novel because I want readers -- and I hope there will be many, many of them -- to discover its joys without prejudice."

After hearing her talk about this book, I bought it, sight-unseen, from Amazon.com, and after finishing it, I could not agree more with Ms. Pearl. This is a discovery you need to make on your own.

All I will say is that it contains the following elements:

> A post-apocalyptic world.
> A long pipe.
> A cow.
> Some geese.
> Ninjas.
and
> Mimes.

What we have here is one of the most unique books written by a debut author in many years. It is entertaining, surprising, touching, shocking, and just plain thrilling. You will reach a certain point in the story where you will want to re-read everything you just read because a shift occurs that changes everything, and that shift took me by surprise.

If you like your novels to have a sort of "kick-ass and take no prisoners" quality to it, this is the book for you. You will be missing out on a very good read if you don't buy this book.

If you are even thinking of reading this, STOP READING THE REVIEWS and buy the book! If you're anything like me, you'll love it. It's the kind of discovery that makes me love reading books.
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