The Happiest People in the World Summary and Reviews

The Happiest People in the World

by Brock Clarke

The Happiest People in the World by Brock Clarke X
The Happiest People in the World by Brock Clarke
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  • Published in USA  Nov 2014
    352 pages
    Genre: Novels

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Book Summary

Take the format of a spy thriller, shape it around real-life incidents involving international terrorism, leaven it with dark, dry humor, toss in a love rectangle, give everybody a gun, and let everything play out in the outer reaches of upstate New York - there you have an idea of Brock Clarke's new novel, The Happiest People in the World.

Who are "the happiest people in the world"? Theoretically, it's all the people who live in Denmark, the country that gave the world Hans Christian Andersen fairy tales and the open-face sandwich. But Denmark is also where some political cartoonists got into very unhappy trouble when they attempted to depict Muhammad in their drawings, which prompted protests, arson, and even assassination attempts.

Imagine, then, that one of those cartoonists, given protection through the CIA, is relocated  to a small town in upstate New York where he is given a job as a high school guidance counselor. Once there, he manages to fall in love with the wife of the high school principal, who himself is trying to get over the effects of a misguided love affair with the very CIA agent who sent the cartoonist to him. Imagine also that virtually every other person in this tiny town is a CIA operative.

The result is a darkly funny tale of paranoia and the all-American obsession with security and the conspiracies that threaten it, written in a tone that is simultaneously filled with wonder and anger in almost equal parts.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Starred Review. Clarke dazzles with a dizzying study in extremes, cruising at warp speed between bleak and optimistic, laugh-out-loud funny and unbearable sadness. His comedy of errors is impossible to put down." - Publishers Weekly

"The funniest and smartest novel I have read in years." - Hannah Tinti, author The Good Thief

"The parallel universe Clarke creates there is both our world and not, and like his baffled, yearning characters, we navigate it with surprise and wonder." - Richard Russo, author of Elsewhere

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Author Information

Brock Clarke Author Biography

Photo: Jon Hughes/Photopresse

Brock Clarke is the author of seven books of fiction, most recently a collection of short stories, The Price of the Haircut. His novels include The Happiest People in the World, Exley (which was a Kirkus Book of the Year, a finalist for the Maine Book Award, and a longlist finalist for the IMPAC Dublin Literary Award), and An Arsonist's Guide to Writers' Homes in New England (which was a national bestseller, and American Library Associate Notable Book of the Year, a #1 Book Sense Pick, a Borders Original Voices in Fiction selection, and a New York Times Book Review Editor's Choice pick). His books have been reprinted in a dozen international editions, and have been awarded the Mary McCarthy Prize for Fiction, the Prairie Schooner Book Series Prize, a National Endowment for ...

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