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The Tyrant's Novel

3.41  ·  Rating details ·  175 ratings  ·  23 reviews
An intelligent, moral take on a highly topical issue - this will take Thomas Keneally to a new level, gaining him a new generation of fans
Published December 1st 2004 by Sceptre (first published 2003)
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Average rating 3.41  · 
Rating details
 ·  175 ratings  ·  23 reviews

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Paul Bryant
Jul 22, 2008 rated it it was ok
Shelves: novels, worldlit
Keneally writes a novel which is all about the fate of intellectuals and artists in Iraq in the UN sanctions period. He then saddles himself with two very awkward conventions which do the book no favours at all. First, I guess if you're writing about a contemporary government, you cloak the country's real name and change all the names of the towns and rivers and so forth. Maybe this is to avoid the lawyers or an icepick in the back of the head. The ghost of Salman Rushdie must appear to writers ...more
Mar 19, 2020 rated it liked it
I read this book soon after it was published in 2003, when the idea of locking up ‘illegal arrivals’ without visas in detention centres, introduced in the 1990s by the Keating Government, had been ramped up to the the mandatory off-shore detention of all arrivals by boat under what was euphemistically called the ‘Pacific Solution‘. The book has only increased in power in the 17 years since, especially with the very public face of Iranian journalist Behrouz Boochani, whose book No Friend But the ...more
Mar 18, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
With more knowledge about the politics of the time this was written and more information about some of the people or events mentioned this would've been more enjoyable. Even without prior knowledge this was an interesting read though. Recommended if you're into politics, foreign affairs or anything along those lines. ...more
Helen O'Shaughnessy
3.5 stars
Funny to have read this straight after ‘And the Mountains Echoed’! Would have been better if true, or based on a true story.
For a book to be great, it needs to have a great story, fantastic setting or great characters. This one didn’t have any of the three.
And the English names drove me mad.

The craziness of dictators and life under them
More a telling than a tale?

Easy to ready, accomplished writing

Interesting insight into (real or imagined) events in Iraq

كتاب #رمان_ديكتاتور
نوشته : #تامس_كنيلي
ترجمه : #حسن_افشار
ناشر : #اختران

رمان کنیلی، چند ویژگی دارد؛ او رفتار دیکتاتورها به ویژه دیکتاتورهای خاورمیانه را به خوبی می شناسد، آن قدر خوب که «عموی کبیر ملت» هم می تواند صدام باشد، هم قذافی، هم اسد و هم کس دیگری. نویسنده به خوبی نشان داده که چقدر رفتارهای دیکتاتورها مشابه است: مشکوک بودن به همه، مشکلات را به گردن دشمن انداختن، تبلیغات بی شمار برای کارایی خود، ریختن بی مهابای خون مخالفان، فساد مالی شدید در طبقه حاکم و فساد اخلاقی در فرزندانشان و... او همچن
Simon C
3 and a half stars, really.

The story of how a refugee ends up in an Australian camp. I found the author's use of Westernised names for people and place somewhat patronising after a while. The main character is fairly sympathetic but only fairly. The jeopardy involved is quite subtle by design but it does drain things of tension to some degree and the end sequence feels a bit short. The sequence involving the war is well done.
Paula  R. C. Readman
Nov 08, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This book is on my most favourite books of all time list. ‘The Tyrant’s novel’ reminds me very much of George Orwell’s 1984. It has a powerful message about human nature.
I was hooked from the beginning. I didn’t think it was my kind of book, but it is so well written and the characters are amazing.

Feb 22, 2019 rated it it was ok
Shelves: fiction
Meh. The end felt preordained; there was nothing about it that surprised me. And the narrator was just not that engaging.
Feb 02, 2015 rated it really liked it
This book left me sad and unsure what to say about it. It’s a bit like Kafka, but far too real for that comparison to really work. I think the main thing about it is that the narrator’s voice is so infused with grief—for his wife, for his people, for the horrible things people do to each other and for the lack of any clear solutions to the horrors. Initially, I had trouble getting the narrative situated in my mind. Keneally has taken a fictionalized Iraq under Saddam Hussein and populated it wit ...more
Stephen Gallup
Aug 11, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I'm a little surprised and disappointed by the quantity of lukewarm and negative reviews this novel has accumulated. It strikes me as one of the most interesting titles to come my way this year (and on a quick check, fwiw, it looks like #44).

Much of my admiration is due to the excellent performance by the audiobook reader, who I think completely grasps the author's purpose in giving "good Anglo Saxon names" to a book full of Middle Eastern characters. When introduced, as a detained asylum seeker
Denise Murphy
Jul 08, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: for-school, own-it
Minus whatever political agenda it may have, for me, this book was a tale of a man who has suffered, been faced with extreme decisions, and suffered some more. It is an emotional journey, captivating and brought forth by a writer with great skill. Keneally has a way of showing deep emotion without making it overly dramatic. Instead, his characters suffer quietly, but realistically. I can imagine that people in other countries, not so lucky as ours to be free, face situations like this. I can't w ...more
Jan 17, 2015 rated it really liked it
A novel for our times - Keneally's story tells of an Iraqi asylum-seeker whose work brought him dangerously close to Great Uncle, a fictitious parallel of Saddam Hussein. Like many of Keneally's works, there is well-documented historical fact to support a tragic human story. For Australians, there is a sinister message, and an even more sinister question from this 10-year-old story: we have treated refugees incredibly badly - but why have we been doing it for so long? Nothing has improved in the ...more
Mar 10, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: audio-books
A promising premise let down by a story that simply wasn't that interesting. Life under the fictionalised dictator was obviously potentially dangerous but you could still get decent coffee and life seemed to go on as ever. At one point the protagonist has to dig up a grave in order to inject drama into the otherwise dull writing process. I loved the Anglicisation of the names though - it was a inspired way to universalise the story. ...more
از این جهت که کاملا منطبق بر اوضاع سیاسی و اقتصادی ایران بود برام جالب بود. گرچه میتونه درباره‌ی هرکشور دیگه‌ای در خاورمیانه یا آفریقا باشه.
این قسمت هم برام خیلی ملموس بود که باوجود نفرتی که آلن از عموی کبیر داشت، وقتی باهاش روبرو شد ناخودآگاه احساس احترام کرد. چیزی که گاهی خودم هم نسبت به بعضی دیکتاتورها در خودم احساس میکنم و برام خیلی عجیبه.
Aug 05, 2009 rated it liked it
A strange political fable narrated by a writer who lives in a deliberately ambiguous geographical location (with elements of both the Middle East & Africa) under a brutal dictator, who commissions the writer to ghostwrite a novel drawing attention to the injustice of the sanctions imposed on the country by the U.S. Ingenious but not as compelling as Office of Innocence.
Mike Finn
Mar 27, 2013 rated it really liked it
Excellent novel about living in a Middle East tyranny.
May 16, 2011 rated it really liked it
great story-within-a-story that humanises the forgotten faces behind asylum-seeker statistics without resorting to sentimentality or two-dimensional characters, not an easy task.
Aug 30, 2010 rated it really liked it
A thinly veiled novel of Saddam Hussein; well written. "...manages to be both bold and humble." ...more
Jan 09, 2012 rated it really liked it
Reading about Tyrant's sweetens my enjoyment of freedom. As always, Keneally writes an interesting, unusual story with strong emotional impact. Near perfect. ...more
Sarah Logan
Oct 03, 2020 rated it really liked it
A mix of seriousness and tongue in cheek, an easy and entertaining read
Jun 08, 2014 rated it really liked it
Interesting premise
Aug 01, 2012 rated it did not like it
Couldn't finish. ...more
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See Thomas Keneally

Thomas Keneally was born in 1935 and his first novel was published in 1964. Since then he has written a considerable number of novels and non-fiction works. His novels include The Chant of Jimmie Blacksmith, Schindler's List and The People's Train. He has won the Miles Franklin Award, the Booker Prize, the Los Angeles Times Prize, the Mondello International Prize and has been ma

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