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White Lightning Paperback – 2002

6 customer reviews

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Paperback, 2002
$45.69 $0.01
--This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

Editorial Reviews


Brilliant, dazzling, unsettling; subtle and haunting; complex and multi-layered; deeply moving Suzi Feay, Independent on Sunday A work of literary art, a mellow, beautifully constructed fable about the human hunger for goodness, it is by far the best thing Cartwright has done. David Robson, Sunday Telegraph One of the finest novelists currently at work ... An altogether stunning achievement D.J. Taylor, Guardian Hauntingly brilliant ... It is the best novel I have read this year. Mick Brown, Daily Telegraph Apart from being a profoundly serious writer, Cartwright can also be an abrasively amusing one. Scarcely a page of this book fails to yield some pleasure. WHITE LIGHTNING is a book of substantial merit. Francis King, Literary Review Beguiling. With this novel, Cartwright, a former Whitbread Award winner has put it all together - style, story, theme - to produce something exceptional. Giles Newington, Irish Times Subtle and moving...Cartwright weaves the story of the man and the baboon with a magicians's delicacy...White Lightning underlines the intelligence and breadth of imagination that this former Whitbread Novel of the Year winner brings to every single paragraph of his work. Daily Mail Justin Cartwright's new novel may well be his finest - in an already accomplished oeuvre. Wry, achingly true and profound without being sententious, it's a moving and bleakly funny look at life's hellish demands and occasional moments of happiness. William Boyd, Guardian Books of the Year Cartwright is a wise and perceptive novelist, keen to probe the dark places of the human heart and the complexities of post-colonial Africa, and possessed of a laudable ability to capture life as it rushes past at terrible speed. James Smart, Sunday Herald This is a moving story of a man totally alone, and a powerful evocation of a country yet to come to terms with its tragedy-strewn destiny. Ros Drinkwater, LiveWire Cartwright is a beautifully evocative writer; also one who makes you think... The rhythm is perfect, and almost every page offers such delights. Allan Massie, Scotsman No amount of irony or humour can blunt the remorseless message contained in this tender, terrible tragedy. Rosemary Goring, Glasgow Herald Cartwright's portrayal of the relationship between the man and the baboon is masterly. You know it is going to end in tears - WHITE LIGHTNING is, above all else, a book of echoes - but still the ending packs a punch of frustration and sadness. Claudia FitzHerbert, Daily Telegraph Cartwright is a hugely skilled writer and his novels are always interesting. [He] can produce passages of uncommon beauty. Michael Thompson-Noel, Financial Times Exquisitely moving. Edwina Currie, New Statesman Books of the Year Cartwright is a brilliant observer and writes extremely well. [He] has produced an X-ray of modern man's soul. Anthony Daniels, Evening Standard Cartwright manages to combine the thrilling readability of genre fiction with the unpredictability and strangeness of a literary master. It's astonishing that he still isn't spoken of in the same breath as Amis and McEwen: he ought to be. Suzi Feay, Independent on Sunday This questioning, elegiac novel is much more than just another portrayal of mid-life crisis. It deserves a place beside those accounts of Africa, from Conrad to Naipaul, which encapsulate an outsider's sense of this world as both alluring and forbidding, and always only half-understood. David Horspool, Times Literary Supplement This is fictional skill of the highest order. Penelope Lively, Independent --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

About the Author

Justin Cartwright was born in South Africa and educated in America and at Oxford University. His novel LEADING THE CHEERS won the Whitbread Book Award for 1998. Justin Cartwright lives in north London with his wife and two sons. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 248 pages
  • Publisher: Sceptre (2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0340827270
  • ISBN-13: 978-0340827277
  • Product Dimensions: 5.9 x 9.1 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #6,998,925 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Stone Slinger on February 28, 2005
Format: Hardcover
This is the first Justin Cartwright novel I have read but definitely not the last. This book deals with our narrarator James and his life in England and South Africa. I have never read a novel quite like this before. It is so richly written with such attention to description that I was fully absorbed in it. James is a small time film maker who was born in South Africa but is raised in England. When he find out his son has died at a young age he begins to review his life. His mother is sick and dying at home in South Africa and he goes to be with her. While there he discovers the country he still loves and uses its natural beauty to help heal him. Of course nothing goes smoothly for James. Even his relationship with his pet baboon Piet is oddly compelling. I won't give any more away because quite frankly its too odd to tell you and then you would never want to read this book. Read it you should however!

I loved it fully and completely.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By C. Wu on March 29, 2008
Format: Paperback
Another writer neglected in the States, this book never found an American publisher but is well worth chasing down. "White Lightning" explores the transitions of life and unfulfilled promise. James Kronk returns to his Native South Africa to tend to his ailing mother, and in the process deals with the thoughts and emotions of confronting his past in his birth home and the so called promise of living abroad in London. Through a series of actions recalled through memories an the truism that life is a summation of little decisions reveals itself. A homecoming is an opportunity for redemption, and that's where the story unfolds.

The circumstances and plot elements of the story are real and identifiable giving the story power, ok the baboon isn't so identifiable. But don't let that deter you from a first rate book.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By C. Brown on December 14, 2007
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
White Lightning is a beautifully written novel about the clashes within the human community and between the animal and human culture. At times passionate, and certainly erotic, White Lightning is ultimately sad in that there is a series of completely believable and interlocking betrayals. Expatriates and the native born vie for supremacy and survival comes at a terrible price. The hero achieves his dream of buying a small farm back in the land of his birth and revels in his new freedom and the gradual liberation of a baboon who becomes an unlikely friend. Memorable and therefore quotable lines on almost every page. An exhilarating read for anyone interested in Africa. Highly recommended author in Canada and UK.
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