Monday, April 27, 2015

'Love, Sex and Other Foreign Policy Goals' by Jesse Armstrong

27 April 2015

Jesse Armstrong is best known as one of the writers of the long-running TV comedy 'Peep Show'. His first novel, 'Love, Sex and Other Foreign Policy Goals' (which I have just finished reading as an unabridged audio book, narrated by Chris Addison) has the same hilarious but squirm-inducing tone as 'Peep Show', with the consequences of believably selfish bad behaviour creating both cartoon comedy and real-world pain. 'Love, Sex and Other Foreign Policy Goals' follows a group of students, setting out in 1994 to cross Europe in a minibus to perform a peace play in war-torn Sarajevo. Their mixture of naivety, good intentions and lack of understanding makes for an uncomfortable but thrilling tale. And Andy, our first person narrator, who has only got involved in the expedition as a way of getting close to the girl of his dreams, is both despicable and sadly sympathetic (particularly as you wait for his lie about being able to be speak Serbo-Croat to be discovered!). Chris Addison feels like the perfect voice to bring Andy to life. As the gang get to the Balkans, their story becomes increasingly bleak, turning from a road trip into a very real evocation of war. Though often very funny, this is too serious to be a comic novel but I found it a real page-turner, grippingly compelling. I look forward to seeing what Jesse Armstrong writes next.



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