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The Parrots [Hardcover]

Filippo Bologna , Howard Curtis

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Book Description

July 4 2013
Three men are preparing to do battle. Their goal is a prestigious literary prize. And each man will do anything to win it. For the young Beginner, loved by critics more than readers, it means fame. For The Master, old, exhausted, preoccupied with his prostate, it means money. And for The Writer-successful, vain and in his prime-it is a matter of life and death. As the rivals lie, cheat and plot their way to victory, their paths crossing with ex-wives, angry girlfriends, preening publishers and a strange black parrot, the day of the Prize Ceremony takes on a far darker significance than they could have imagined.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Pushkin Press; Reprint edition (July 4 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1908968192
  • ISBN-13: 978-1908968197
  • Product Dimensions: 19.8 x 13.7 x 3.3 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 581 g
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #3,259,842 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

"This very funny satire about the stuffy little world of literature could be set anywhere... It's a hoot, written with a shrewd eye for the absurdity of certain literary egos." The Times

"A five-star satire on literary vanity ... A wonderful, surprising novel with a rich payload of emotion behind the caricature." - Metro

"Very funny ... lucidly translated." - Lucy Popescu, Huffington Post

"[Bologna's] smart new novel ... [has a] smooth, knowing narrator ... shrewd and precise, often comic, with a cool eye for the truth of these characters', Daniel Hahn, Independent

"A satire of Swiftian rancour... the parrots of the title act as apt metaphors for the endless churn of appropriation and pastiche that passes for literary originality... Bologna has a gift, preserved in Howard Curtis's crisp translation, for the comically jolting simile." - Nat Segnit, TLS

"A scathing satire about the murky world of Italy's prestigious literary awards... Bologna paints a comically grim picture of a culture of back-stabbing and deceit." Financial Times

"Tacks between high literary majesty and good hard slapstick without ever capsizing... scintillating... that rarest of books: a damn decent novel about writers... terrific." - Samuel Ashworth, Brooklyn Rail

About the Author

Filippo Bologna was born in Tuscany in 1978. He lives in Rome where he works as a writer and screenwriter. His debut novel How I Lost the War is also published by Pushkin Press.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 3.7 out of 5 stars  3 reviews
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Wild Aviary Sept. 14 2013
By propertius - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This satiric little novel should appeal to those with a particular interest in the literary world, not in terms of "art" but rather in terms of ego and mercantile concerns. There can be no more different characters then the three candidates for the unnamed literary prize. The old Master who wants to grab the brass ring before dying. The Writer, who wants fortune more than fame, and has a nasty little secret. And The Beginner who seeks affirmation of his greatness.

The machinations they endure to attain the prize and the outcome which gives them each what they deserve if not want, will not have you guffawing, but will make you smile at the ways of the muses and especially fate. As I said the reader must have at least a modicum of interest in the publishing world to enjoy this book, printed alas on my Kindle reader, and not superior stock as the Master would have wished.

Much like "The Invisible Player" by Giuseppe Pontiggia, which deals with academia "The Parrots" takes you through the souls of writers who we see as rather venal men.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Three candidates - one glittering prize. Jan. 8 2014
By Sue Kichenside - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
The setting is Rome and there are three authors up for a prestigious literary prize. They are not named (no-one is named in the book). Instead they are termed The Beginner, The Writer and The Master. Each is desperate to win the award for his own spurious reasons.

This is a neat idea for a plot but rather spoiled by over-stylised writing which is just a little too pleased with itself. What might have been a biting satire on the place of awards in the arts instead emerges as little more than a smug exercise in modern writing. And what was with the parrot?

Regrettably, this book turned out to have more beak than bite. But here's the thing with translations: is it the author's failing or the translator's? Without the ability to read the original, it's impossible to know for sure.
4.0 out of 5 stars The Review! -- The Quest! The Satire to Enjoy Sept. 7 2014
By Susan Drees - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
What to say first about this Italian lampoon of writers' awards, a satire of The Prize for which three writers, The Beginner, The Writer and The Master are all nominated and are all working their way through the various avenues of the publishing world. Well, the first thing I would say is that I am pleased it has now been translated into English, giving me the opportunity to read and enjoy it. There are moments that are laugh out loud funny, moments that are touching, moments that I wanted the writer (not The Writer) to erase and do over. But that's what satire is. It challenges.

There are little gems like the following line inserted into The Writer's brain when thinking of his admirers.

For some unknown but human reason, recognizing
themselves in a character in a novel made it possible
for them to recognize themselves as individuals in the
real world. It was like a literary Eucharist that
signified their rebirth, their transition to a new
life. (loc 325)

And this thought from The Beginner:

Before closing the door, attracted by the moist
emptiness, he would stand there for seconds on end
listening to the hypnotic hum of the refrigerant in
the coils of the machine. This--he was almost convinced
--must be the closest thing to the noise of an
intelligence at work. If there had ever been such a
thing as the sound of writing, an inner, metaphysical
sound, it absolutely had to be just like the sound of
his refrigerator, so different from the vulgar
pounding of a keyboard. (loc 459)

And lastly, from The Master:

"Life is merely passing time and the desire to be
loved. Nothing else."
Life, life, life...How unbearable they were, these
writers always talking about life. What do they even
know of life? Have they ever lived? Poets, yes, they
know about it. Other writers only imagine it. Scoundrels
who climb naked onto a ledge and threaten to throw
themselves off if nobody will listen to them, that's
what writers are. If it wasn't for poets, who question
every certainty in order to climb higher, and who
extend to them the support of poetry in order to get them
down like firemen with a scared cat... Life, yes, but other
people's thought The Master. (loc 969)

Well now you have a glimpse into the brains and minds of the protagonists, those who hope for the ultimate Prize. And also I hope you have an idea of the writing that is here for your reading pleasure. I did, indeed, find it a pleasure. A few minor quibbles with the way the set up of the avian introduction and coda were presented perhaps, but otherwise, I definitely recommend this to my literary-minded friends.

An ecopy of this book was provided by the publisher through NetGalley in return for an honest review.

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