Mixing far-fetched fantasy with a surreal, yet subtly real satire of modern day Britain, Hawes has created, in Speak for England, a sublimely crafted, worrying portrait of modern society. Stuffed with fascinating political insights, interestingly conceived comments on various English institutions, and an inexplicable yet charming obsession with 'The Eagle' and 'Dan Dare' albums, the narrative is frenetic yet cleverly refined. Based on a reality show gone too far, lapped up by the English public, the protagonist 'Marley', a self-conscious, insignificant victim of society’s apathy, stumbles across a small colony of classic 50s 'stiff upper lip' types who have kept the tradition of the Great British Empire alive.
Loosely disguised caricatures manipulated by the cynical Hawes add much to the hilarity of the overall novel. After all, who could fail to find Tony Bla . . . er . . , the smug, PR driven Prime Minister being chased by a cane-wielding, old-fashioned headmaster, anything but amusing? Scenes like this pepper the pages and, with the beautifully described scenery, from the lashing rain on the motorway to the desperation and loneliness of the life-sapping jungle, Hawes really allows his reader to enter this off-centre world and experience his visions, fears or perhaps obscure fantasies of the future.
Contemporary, visionary and very entertaining, Hawes has taken an ambitious idea and dealt with it in an exemplary manner. Tinged with warning, yet achingly funny at times, this book will send you on a roller coaster of emotion and simply must be read. Of course, his talk of England always giving everyone a good stuffing in the rugby may have dated somewhat quickly. But let’s not talk about that, eh!
A cracking read.
It is possible to use this review for promotional purposes, but the following acknowledgement should be included: A review from www.gwales.com, with the permission of the Welsh Books Council.
Gellir defnyddio’r adolygiad hwn at bwrpas hybu, ond gofynnir i chi gynnwys y gydnabyddiaeth ganlynol: Adolygiad oddi ar www.gwales.com, trwy ganiatâd Cyngor Llyfrau Cymru.