THE RIGHT TO AN ANSWER by Anthony Burgess


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This middle aged businessman's review of his involvements in the lives of others is in the British comic spirit. J. W. Denham, whose job keeps him in the East, particularly Japan, rebels at the "putridity of damnation" he finds on his return to the suburb of the smug Midland city that is his home. During his leave he denounces the weekend adultery he sees blooming at the pub and discovers his tirades have inspired young Winterbottom to leave his experimental wife, Alice, and take Imogene, daughter of the local poet, to live with him in London. The introduction of Mr. Raj, from Ceylon, to the community produces a color clash, for Raj's study is to be on the "Popular Conceptions of Racial Differences" and his good intentions in having his questionnaires filled create widening areas of trouble. His talents with curry, however, result in his living with Denham's father when Denham returns to his job, and his acceptance by white people becomes easier. Denham plays hookey when he learns his father is dying and, home again -- his father dead, he is confronted with two more deaths, for Raj kills Alice's returned husband, then kills himself. Denham's mirror, at the end, reveals that he has done little to help and that the instability at which he has railed is better than the shadow life he lives aboard. With a feeling for the ludicrous, for high lighted characters and cumulatively heightened situations, this plays the "angry" theme with adult modulations.
Pub Date: Jan. 1st, 1960
ISBN: 0393008878
Page count: 255pp
Publisher: Norton
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1st, 1960


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