* Contemporary - and how! - novel by 'the most imaginative novelist of his generation' (The Times)
Iain Banks came to widespread and controversial public notice with the publication of his first novel, THE WASP FACTORY, in 1984. Since then he has gained enormous popular and critical acclaim with further works of fiction and science fiction. In 1993 he was acknowledged as one of the Best of Young British Writers.
Ever since The Wasp Factory first bent readers' minds in 1984, prolific Scottish author Banks has tantalized and terrified with his eerily accurate representations of humanity at its twisted best and worst. Lighter in mood than some of his previous novels, his latest, a bestseller in Great Britain, is still shot through with sinister undertones. In a recognizable but slightly tilted 1998, Kathryn Telman works for the Business, a mysterious corporation that predates the Christian church and at one point owned the Roman Empire. Plucked from poverty in West Scotland at the age of eight, she has been groomed for the fast track ever since. Thirty years later, despite her power, money and success, she is finally beginning to wonder just what the Business is all about. Why was she pulled out of Scotland just as she noticed something amiss at a subsidiary chip factory? Why has she been summoned by a munitions-collecting higher-up to talk his nephew out of writing an incendiary anti-Islamic screenplay? Why has the Business's sinister head of security sent her a dirty DVD showing the wife of Kathryn's colleagueDand secret loveDin an illicit tryst? And why suddenly appoint her "ambassador" to Thulahn, a remote Himalayan principality the Business is buying in order to gain its own seat in the U.N.? Banks offers a hilarious look at international corporate culture and the insatiable avarice that drives it, but he suggests the positive potential of globalization, too. Less overtly eccentric and sensationalistic than favorites like The Wasp Factory and A Song of Stone, the novel is a clever, genre-bending pleasure. (Nov.) Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.
What is "The Business"? One of those secret societies you've heard about that really rules the world, with operatives around the globe, friends in high places, and a little bit of dirt on everyone. Having been practically raised in The Business, Level 3 Employee Kate Telman confronts a crisis of conscience when on assignment to the island of Thuhn; her company plans on buying the island outright as a headquarters for its base operations, but Telman balks when she discovers that part of the deal is her imminent betrothal to the island's prince. Other curiosities crop up: a forbidden tryst on DVD, an employee's selectively removed teeth, and so on. There's more malevolent intrigue beneath the surface, but not much more; Banks has been accused of overwriting before, but this novel seems emaciated. As it stands, the aims of Telman's Business and its renegades are kept boringly indistinct throughout, allowing Banks to focus on his eccentric but uninteresting characters while delivering a routine wrap-up. Operating on low inspiration despite a great concept, Banks's novel isn't flat-out awful, but it's awfully disappointing. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 7/00.]ÄMarc Kloszewski, Indiana Free Lib., PA Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.
Consistently engaging...From its hilarious opening, a telephone conversation with a man who has lost his teeth, to the touching finale...it hardly misses a beat. SUNDAY TELEGRAPH 'Slick and streetwise. SUNDAY TIMES Bank s' ability to make you feel you're there remains as sharp as ever. TIME OUT '.a slick, blend of thriller, dark comedy and offbeat love story, bursting with set pieces and sly wit. EMPIRE ...Satisfyingly readable to the end MAXIM THE BUSINESS is his tenth novel... and reveals no slackening in his imaginative energies MAIL ON SUNDAY