The Porcupine by Julian Barnes

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In his latest novel, Julian Barnes, author of Talking It Over and A History of the World in 10 1/2 Chapters, trains his laser-bright prose on the collapse of Communism in Eastern Europe.

Stoyo Petkanov, the deposed Party leader, is placed on trial for crimes that range from corruption to political murder. Petkanov's guilt -- and the righteousness of his opponents -- would seem to be self-evident. But, as brilliantly imagined by Barnes, the trial of this cunning and unrepentant dictator illuminates the shadowy frontier between the rusted myths of the Communist past and a capitalist future in which everything is up for grabs.

From the Trade Paperback edition.

About Julian Barnes

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Julian Barnes's honors include the Somerset Maugham Award, the Geoffrey Faber Memorial Prize, and the E. M. Forster Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. In 2004 he was named Commandeur de l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres by the French Ministry of Culture. He lives in London.
Published June 15, 2011 by Vintage. 160 pages
Genres: Literature & Fiction. Fiction

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Kirkus Reviews

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Barnes's famously light touch is applied to a bar of lead here: the nauseated, exhausted atmosphere of a newly de-Socialized Balkan state.

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Publishers Weekly

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Though Barnes generally excels at the novel of ideas ( Flaubert's Parrot ) and is a master at disclosing character through adroit dialogue ( Talking It Over) , his latest effort, an interesting thesis conveyed in verbal interchanges between two characters, doesn't cohere into a dramatic narrative.

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Publishers Weekly

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Interesting but finally bloodless, this novel finds the deposed Communist president of an Eastern European country put on trial for the crimes he committed during his 33-year iron rule.

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(He describes a dumping ground where discarded statues of Lenin, Stalin, Leonid Brezhnev—and now Petkanov—"are lined up against a high wall as if awaiting the firing squad.") While the country has a new face, its spirit is still crippled by power-hungry leaders and insecure followers.

Dec 14 1992 | Read Full Review of The Porcupine

London Review of Books

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