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HAWES James

England

Speak for England (Cape, 2005)

James Hawes was born in 1960 and grew up in Gloucestershire, Edinburgh and Shropshire. After graduating from Hertford College, Oxford, he worked as an English teacher in Spain and as an archaeologist in Wales, then studied for a Ph.D. on Nietzsche and Kafka at University College London in 1987. He lectured in Ireland between 1989 and 1991 before teaching German at the University of Swansea.

He is the author of five novels. The first, A White Merc With Fins (1996), tells the story of a bank robbery that goes wrong. It was followed by Rancid Aluminium (1997), a thriller featuring middle-aged film director Peter Thompson and his involvement with a sinister Russian businessman. The protagonists of Dead Long Enough (2000), Hawes’ third novel, meet on the same night each year armed only with a toothbrush and some money, ready for adventure. White Powder, Green Light (2002) is described by his publisher as ’a comic journey from the eccentricities of Wales to the unholy Soho movie-world’. 

James Hawes lives in Cardiff. His most recent novel is Speak for England (2005), which led the Guardian to decide that ’James Hawes has matured into a wonderful satirist.

In french


Bibliography :

  • Armalite (Cape, 2008)
  • Speak for England (Cape, 2005)
  • White Powder, Green Light (Cape, 2002)
  • Dead Long Enough (Cape, 2000)
  • Rancid Aluminium (Cape, 1997)
  • White Merc With Fins (Cape, 1996)

A summery of Speak for England :

In this corker of a satire on politics and culture (the author’s fifth novel ; the first to be published in the U.S.), Brian Marley is plunked down in the horrific jungles of Papua, New Guinea, to compete in Brit Pluck, Green Hell, Two Million, a diabolical survival-reality show. Our Everyman undergoes grueling ordeals and is close to death, yet remains the last man standing. Poised to exit, he witnesses the crash of the helicopters that would carry him to freedom, thus losing all contact with civilization. Dazed and seeking shelter, he discovers not mirage or psychosis, but a colony of British airplane crash survivors tucked away in a time warp since the late ’50s. "Just a jolly gang of boys and girls on our way out to the big Commmonwealth Public Schools jamboree in Adelaide" says the self-styled "Vicar." The resourcefulness that carried them thus far leads to their glorious repatriation, whereupon the colony’s reactionary Headmaster ousts the British government, turns its social programs topsy-turvy and brokers a deal with the U.S. to become a colony. "We’ll be a damn sight freer and have a lot more clout as a state in America than in a United Europe.... We’ll be dealing with our own sort in our own language, not with the ruddy Frogs through wop interpreters." Sans two million pounds, sans cushy Foreign Office post proposed to keep him mum about ghastly goings-on back in the jungle and sans nubile blond beauty offered as spouse, our contemporary Candide eschews corruption and succeeds in "making his garden grow" in a most satisfactory fashion.