Will Selfs biggest, most ambitious novel yeta profound meditation upon the nature of religion and a caustic satire of contemporary life.
When London cabdriver Dave Rudmans wife of five years deserts him for another man, taking their only son with her, he is thrown into a tailspin of doubt and discontent. Fearing Carl will never know him, Dave pens a gripping textpart memoir, part philosophical treatise, and part handbook of London street coordinatesthat captures the frustration and anxiety of modern life. Dave buries the book in his ex-wifes backyard, intending it for Carl when he comes of age.
Five hundred years later, the Book of Dave is discovered by the inhabitants of Ham, the flooded remnants of London, where it becomes a sacred text of biblical proportion, and its author is revered as a mighty prophet. A rant against religion and society, a historical detective story set in the far future, and a tribute to the sometimes fraught relations between father and son, The Book of Dave take on grand themes in a grand manner and clearly positions Will Self in the pantheon of Britains contemporary greats.
Putting these two subjective points aside (explained in the full review), The Book of Dave is a wickedly clever satirical novel that presents a humane and fallible protagonist (Dave) in a funny, albeit sometime depressing, vision of our possible future. As always, don't take BookBrowse's word for it, instead read a substantial excerpt (exclusive to BookBrowse) representing both the present and future storylines, and decide for yourself whether it's a book for you. (Reviewed by BookBrowse Review Team).
Much of this is superb, but a byzantine plot ..is simply tedious...this is indeed divided: by turns acrid, funny and perversely moving, yet marred by sourness, shrillness and redundancy.
Booklist - Frank Sennett
Starred Review. This searing satire...is as rousing an indictment of organized religion - and especially fundamentalism - as readers are likely to encounter in the post-9/11 canon.
Starred Review. Self is endlessly talented, and in crossbreeding a fantasy novel with a scorching satire of contemporary mores, he's created a beautiful monster of the future that feeds on the neurotic present—and its parents.
The Telegraph UK The Book of Dave is Self's most successful novel to date. Funny, frightening, moving, its premise is that the unhinged and misogynistic rantings of a London cabbie are unearthed in a future capital (by then just a series of islands). Taking more of an interest in character than ever before, Self tells the sad story of Dave alongside that of the mangled-cockney-speaking, fearful new world in which a soul is a "fare", "irony" is the word for any metal, and Dave is always watching his people in the Rearview.
The Telegraph UK - Jonathan Bate
Self is an incorrigible wordsmith ... The foundational pun in this book is the name of the Hamsters' religion, Dävinanity. The cabbie's rant is Self's device for castigating the inanity of all scriptures. In less enlightened times, this conceit would have earned him a place on the Pope's Index Librorum Prohibitorum and a fatwa from the Ayatollah for good measure ....[W]hether or not Self's Hammier chapters will endure, there is no doubt that those written in the voice of Dave offer just about the funniest and most depressing vision we could have of where we are here in 'Ing' right now.
Time Out (London UK) - John O'Connell
Control is a quality Self has had to learn: previous books have sometimes felt undone by their author’s sheer facility, as if Self believed his main duty as a novelist was simply to get the stuff down on the page. But The Book of Dave is considered as well as impassioned, kind as well as cruel. Black cabbies are easy to caricature, and Self’s achievement here, amid the satirical fireworks, is to make Dave not only human but capable of redemption. The result is one of the finest and funniest London novels in years.
Will Self is the author of a number of short-story collections
including The Quantity
Theory of Insanity (winner of the
1992 Geoffrey Faber award), Grey Area
and Tough Tough Toys for Tough Tough
Boys. He is also the author of
six novels including Cock and Bull,
My Idea of Fun,
Great Apes, How the Dead Live
(shortlisted for the Whitbread Novel of
the Year 2000) and The Book of Dave.
His next book, The Butt, will be
published in the UK in April 2008.
Together with photographer David
Gamble, he produced Perfidious Man,
a sideways look at contemporary
masculinity. He has also published three
collections of journalism, Junk Mail,
Sore Sites and Feeding Frenzy.
He is a regular broadcaster on UK
television and radio and contributes to a plethora of...
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