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Ludmila's Broken English: A Novel Paperback – April 17, 2007

3.1 out of 5 stars 17 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Pierre's debut, Vernon God Little, won the Man Booker and the Whitbread prizes in 2003; the book narrated a grim and bizarre Columbine-like aftermath in smalltown Texas. Here, Pierre widens his scope in comparing and combining the sordid lives of formerly conjoined twins in the U.K. with that of a seductress from the war-torn Caucasus. The author, whose pen name initials stand for "Dirty But Clean," begins by highlighting the adult Heath twins' childish antics in a terror-threatened London. Upon their medical separation as adults (effected in a prologue; they were conjoined at the abdomen) and release from a private institution, Blair, intrepid and sexually ripe, and Bunny, a feeble asexual, enter the real world and must learn to rely on one another in new ways. Meanwhile, miles away in Ubilisk-Kuzhniskia, the beautiful, sarcastic Ludmila Derev has accidentally killed her incestuous grandfather, the family's sole breadwinner, and must save her family from starvation. Her sharp tongue pulls her into a Russian brides Internet scam, throwing her in the path of the traveling Heath brothers. With a mix of offbeat composition and intoxicating insight, Pierre's dystopian work is in a genus all its own; he succeeds in shocking his audience with this maddeningly entertaining encore. (May 8)
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 Bookmarks Magazine

A thick wall divides those that admire DBC Pierre's headlong linguistic energy from those who still seem offended that his first novel, Vernon God Little, won the MAN Booker and Whitbread prizes. Supporters find a sinister intelligence at work in the alternating narratives of the Heath twins and Ludmila, written "by an author who almost diabolically misleads his readers" (Los Angeles Times). That's meant as a compliment, but it lends support to the detractors who complain of conceits that don't pan out and sloppy prose and who harbor little patience for the narrative misdirection. The most evenhanded of the reviews, in TheOregonian, sums it up best with this caveat: "Embrace Pierre's full-bodied, freewheeling technique on the first page or get ready for a thoroughly dislocating ride."

Copyright © 2004 Phillips & Nelson Media, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company (April 17, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0393329674
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393329674
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.9 x 8.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 0.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #701,807 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
DBC Pierre hit fame with his Booker Prize winning debut, Vernon God Little. I suggest you start there, as Ludmila's Broken English can be seen as an evolution in his own style, which you may not take to. Still, I overall recommend reading LBE if you are seeking a genuinely funny novel, written in a style and voice distinctly different to anything else around.

The story comprises two threads; there is the travail of the titular Eastern European peasant girl, whose family is in financial and legal strife, amid the backdrop of a messy civil war; then there is a less funny but more nuanced account of the post-op readjustments of an adult English pair of erstwhile conjoined twins, Blair and Bunny. Ludmila has been entrusted with her family's future survival and is sent out into the world, largely because she possesses some rudimentary English -- a valuable commodity. The world, at first, is the fictional province of Ublinsk, which is slowly being overrun by fighting. The twins, meanwhile, are in London and are experiencing their first tastes of life outside of the protective nest of their old-fashioned asylum for medical oddities. Blair is the more virile twin and becomes obsessed with the flesh of the young women he observes on his first sojourn into a nightclub. Bunny is the book's hero, but possesses no desires at all, save for a constant yearning for a return to the familiarity of the asylum -- and a need for gin. He is cynical, misanthropic, witty and utterly pathetic, being dragged about by his libidinous brother.
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Format: Hardcover
This book fails, and it does not even fail grandly. The new language promised us obliquely, by the title, boils down to a tiresomely repeated set of pseudo-Soviet insults. The apparent structural innovation, Pierre's riskiest move, turns out to be only a bald ploy: he tells two alternating stories--i.e. the odd chapters take us to England, the even chapers to a Soviet province--whose plots have nothing to do with each other, and meet after three hundred pages to no pay-off whatsoever. Such impressive terms as "globalisation" and "post-modernity" are bandied about, but just a little -- and the attempt at social commentary is the most embarrassing (if Pierre bothered to try), or obnoxious (if he did not), aspect of the whole muddle. Does Pierre think his reader will be fooled, by the scattered presence of these terms, into imagining this book approaches social relevance? -- The book, strange to say, deals with matter that seems somehow irrelevant even to itself.

That said, I still hold Vernon God Little one of the very best books of the decade, and I encourage everyone to read it. It says a lot for that first book, that I can still praise it so highly. Those who have read Vernon, and loved it, will read the latter offering at some risk to their ability to enjoy the former.
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Format: Hardcover
An enjoyable read, but not without its faults. I found it a little awkward to get into, especially the Heath twin's annoying faux "northern" accents (or maybe because I read this whilst staying with my Grandparents with REAL accents made an unfair comparison. It could have been worse, but they could have had a bit more variety with their language. Repeating "I mean to say" just grated after a while). Despite this, I really did find the Heath twins endearing, but if DBC hadn't been watching Bottom, Young Ones or related shows he's got an uncanny knack of writing the leads to sound very much like Rik and Eddy. But once past the initial awkwardness, I found I got sucked in and really enjoyed the way the story unfolded and the humour and creativity it was written with.

The ending, though, felt forced - the clash of cultures was inevitable, but the way it was delivered just felt a little contrived and convenient (if not grotesque), and left me feeling a little let down and occasionally a bit confused. So much was set up throughout the book, it just didn't pay off in the end and perhaps the resolution a little too "easy".

All up, though, I did enjoy it and definately worth the read for DBC Pierre fans or fans of similar books if you can get through the first few chapters. Hopefully he can improve on his next effort and break free of the expectations and restraints of previous work.
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Format: Paperback
This was one of the worst books I've read. The plot is ridiculous and goes nowhere, the dialog is dull and repetitive and all the characters but Ludmila loathsome one-dimensional caricatures (she's a likable one-dimensional caricature). If this wasn't bad enough, the book ends with a gruesome scene in which a central character is raped which appears to have been included only because the author had run out of ideas. I felt guilty for giving this book away rather than throwing it out.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
The way Pierre writes blasts new paths into my brain. It's so refreshing. It takes a while to get used to but once you're attuned to it other writing seems very docile in comparison. The story moves slowly being built with blocks of wild description and emotional slaps in the face. His characters are unlikely and real and he bares their very souls. The story dragged me away from what I should be doing until I finished it. Fantastic.
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