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The Happiest People in the World

By Brock Clarke

The absurdity and distortion of reality that made Brock Clarke’s previous two novels so outrageously funny and yet so moving are on full display in his newest offering, The Happiest People in the World. Adapting the format of the political thriller and subverting it to tell his story of innocence corrupted, Clarke has delivered a biting and controversial satire on the American obsession with security and the conspiracies that threaten it.

The Happiest People in the World
is a spy novel like no other spy novel. It’s also a send-up of American culture, and in particular the constant pursuit of individual happiness of the kind that is attainable only at the expense of others. In exploring the contradictions and pitfalls of our national obsession with both “freedom” and “security,” the novel shows us how we constantly subvert our own good intentions—as husbands and wives, as children and parents, as students and teachers, as believers in art and believers in God, as citizens of America and citizens of the world.

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Brock Clarke

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Review quotes

“A literary first: a book that feels like the love child of Saul Bellow and Hogan’s Heroes, full of authorial cartwheels of comedy and profundity.” —GQ

“[Clarke knows] how to get a novel off to a snorting good start . . . The Happiest People in the World begins with a raucous bar scene featuring party streamers, smoke, prone bodies, spilled fluids and a stuffed moose with a surveillance camera in its left eye . . . [Clarke has] success in dreaming up oddball originals that have instant appeal.” —Janet Maslin, The New York Times

“The funniest and smartest novel I have read in years. Yes! I thought, as I read these pages. That’s how you write a good book.” —Hannah Tinti, author The Good Thief

“[Clarke] creates books that taste like delicious cuts of absurdity marbled with erudition.” —The Washington Post

“[The Happiest People in the World] is relentlessly, and often hilariously, wrong on purpose. Brock Clarke . . . has never shied away from the ridiculous plot twist or the implausible personality quirk. And this new book is packed with them: Indeed, it is built almost entirely out of them. There is essentially nothing in it that, removed from context, makes any sense. Not that you would want it to . . . I can think of no other contemporary novel so preoccupied with the nature of familial love and romantic longing, and no other in which people are so concerned with their own obligations, and so far from comprehending what they actually are.” —The New York Times Book Review

“A zany and fast-paced book that explores the myriad ways people of all nations make themselves and others unhappy . . . Clarke's comedy is complex and packed with big ideas, but also wonderful sentences . . . This book is a goofball, but a goofball with an edge; its humor and quirkiness are not ends in themselves, but doors that Clarke uses to open the view out onto a bigger vista: the span of America, unto itself, and in relation to the world.” —Chicago Tribune’s Printers Row

“A whiz-bang spy satire bundled in an edgy tale of redemption . . . Clarke dazzles with a dizzying study in extremes, cruising at warp speed between bleak and optimistic, laugh-out-loud funny and unbearable sadness. His comedy of errors is impossible to put down.” —Publishers Weekly, starred review

“Brock Clarke's hilarious new novel starts out in rural Denmark, then takes us someplace really foreign and utterly weird: upstate New York. The parallel universe Clarke creates there is both our world and not, and like his baffled, yearning characters, we navigate it with surprise and wonder.” —Richard Russo, author of Elsewhere

“[A] dark and funny satire . . . The ridiculous confusion of infidelities, secret identities and double-crosses that plays out reflects the absurdity of any country obsessed with spying on its own people.” —The Wall Street Journal

“Murder, arson, adultery, drugging and drinking, cruel politics--reading a book crammed with such activities can make the timid and yearning among us feel like the happiest people in the world.” —Edith Pearlman, author of Binocular Vision

“If the literary category of ‘mordant fable’ exists at all, it may be because Brock Clarke invented it. The Happiest People in the World is everything we fans have come to love from a Clarke novel: playful and deliriously skewed, and somehow balancing between genuinely great-hearted and gloriously weird.” —Lauren Groff, author of Arcadia

“Brock Clarke has long been one of my favorite writers, and this novel, good lord, is his best one yet. In The Happiest People in the World, Clarke portrays, with terrifying accuracy, the lives of people who constantly ruin things without ever quite understanding why or how, which eventually gives way to a strange kind of invulnerability. There is no writer who does this better than him, creating that wonderful mixture of unexpected, sharp comedy and genuine empathy. The Danes may be the happiest people in the world, but you can easily join those ranks by simply reading this amazing book.” —Kevin Wilson, author of The Family Fang

Product Details
Categories
Number of pages
368
Publication date
June 30, 2015
ISBN
9781616204792