ONE BIG DAMN PUZZLER

IS BE OR IS BE NOT, IS BE ONE BIG DAMN PUZZLER.

On a remote South Pacific island paradise the struggles of an elderly tribesman to translate Shakespeare’s Hamlet into the local pidgin English are interrupted by the unexpected arrival of a young American lawyer with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. From that moment on, nothing will ever be the same . . . What follows is an ambitious and wonderfully original novel, inviting us into a sublimely imagined world teeming with life, ideas and full of wonders – the islanders with their strange notions about sex, their madly logical rituals and their tortured but addictive version of the English language, a curiously large number of people with artificial legs, and the dwarf pigs they hunt (when they can be bothered). It’s a place where magic is everywhere, where you can buy a potion to make someone fall in love with you (all it costs is a few yams) and visit the kassa house and discover that the dead may not be so dead after all. It’s a world so different it questions our own values and ideas about love, life and even death. Life-affirming, achingly funny and profoundly moving, One Big Damn Puzzler confirms John Harding as one of contemporary fiction’s most entertaining and observant chroniclers of the human condition.

‘A multi-layered comedy with characters and language that are still funny on repeated readings. Laugh-out loud funny, ambitious, carefully constructed, addictive, this novel is one big damn fine achievement.’
Glasgow Herald

‘It’s hard to imagine a more instantly winning conceit than that which opens One Big Damn Puzzler . . . it made me laugh. A lot. The charm and comic invention continue. Harding’s novel is a looping, playful flight of fancy, full of affection and silliness. Gaugin-gaudy, and as rich and spicy as a good dish of stewed yam.’
Daily Telegraph (Hardback review)

‘This big ambitious novel works very well: Harding’s islanders are convincing and he expertly plays chicken along the borderline of political correctness. More than that, it is touching and, in its ruminations on a theme by Shakespeare, damn clever.’
Daily Telegraph (Paperback review)

‘Feel good . . . life affirming . . . One Big Damn Puzzler begins at a furious pace and contains some genuinely original touches. A gentle satire subtly underlines the topicality. Laugh-out-loud funny and moving.’
Literary Review

‘In this masterly tragicomedy, ambitious in scope and executed with wit and exuberance, John Harding has created a rich, complex and enduring fictitious world which nevertheless holds important truths for our own.’
Daily Mail

‘Blackly comic . . . reminiscent of Waugh and Pynchon by turns . . . intensely literary. A thoroughly entertaining read.’
The Times

‘A large, rambunctious novel filled with memorable characters and generous helpings of wit and compassion. An intricate and exciting plot ensures you’ll be hooked to the very end.’
Good Book Guide

‘A timely parable about the American drive to superimpose its cultural values on others.’
The Guardian

‘One of the most delightfully wacky, beautifully written, wise and moving farces you’ll read in a long while.’
The Bookseller

‘Harding is an equal opportunity and brutally sharp lampooner. Folly, silliness and cultural sucker punches come at full speed in this ribald, imaginative farce.’
U.S. Publishers Weekly

‘A cracking read.’
FHM

‘Bladder-emptyingly funny . . . a big damn excellent book.’
Lads Mag

‘Enormously enjoyable. Harding tackles this novel’s huge subject with a blissfully skewed lightness of touch. And I’ll never be able to look at a pair of green slingbacks again without wanting to cry. And laugh.’
Deborah Moggach

‘If you want to buy a book this year for someone who loves inventive fiction and a good laugh, make it this one. Achingly funny and very touching. As the natives would say: “This be one damn fine novel.’
Northern Echo

‘Comic and moving . . . stays with you long after you have read it.’
New Books Magazine

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