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The Comedians

3.98  ·  Rating details ·  7,389 ratings  ·  588 reviews
Three men meet on a ship bound for Haiti, a world in the grip of the corrupt “Papa Doc” and the Tontons Macoute, his sinister secret police. Brown the hotelier, Smith the innocent American, and Jones the confidence man—these are the “comedians” of Greene’s title. Hiding behind their actors’ masks, they hesitate on the edge of life. They are men afraid of love, afraid of pa ...more
Paperback, 292 pages
Published 2009 by Vintage Classics (first published 1966)
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Jim Fonseca
Mar 21, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: british-authors
Our main character is a world weary drifter. The novel starts with him returning to Haiti on a cargo ship with just a handful of passengers. There are so few Europeans in Haiti that all these passengers and some of the crew enter the story again. Disengaged from his courtesan mother and even unsure what his last name really is, he has worked in European restaurants and sold forged low-end paintings. His mother dies and leaves him a hotel/cabaret in Port-au-Prince. He attempts to run the hotel an ...more
Kevin Ansbro
In need of respite from a run of poorly-written modern novels that were blinged up to the eyeballs with hype, I sought refuge in a Graham Greene one, knowing that elegant prose and grammatical excellence awaited me.
Our narrator, Mr Brown, is a burnt-out international wheeler-dealer who returns to Haiti by ship, having inherited a hotel there. On the voyage over, Mr Brown buddies up with (wait for it) a Mr Smith and a Mr Jones.

Haiti has fallen under the tyrannical rule of "Papa Doc" and his secr
Apr 13, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: uk, fiction, 20-ce
This is without exception my favorite Graham Greene novel. Love and murder in 1960's Haiti among the evil Papa Doc Duvalier's Tonton Macute. The evocation of landscape and murderous heat and voodoo would alone be enough to hold our attention. But there's more than that: there's a great story of intrigue and jealousy. I cannot recommend it highly enough. ...more
Oct 24, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
At several points during my reading of this novel -- because of its crisp, realistic dialogue; dangerous setting; and intriguing, imperfect characters -- I imagined it as a movie. I just looked it up on and, yes, there is a 1967 movie with, ugh, Burton and Taylor, not at all whom I envisioned for the roles.

Perhaps because of its title, I thought the novel would be of a sharp, exaggerated satire, but, no, I suppose the Haiti of Duvalier was surreal enough. At first meeting the three men
Dave Schaafsma
“In human relationships, kindness and lies are worth a thousand truths.”

The Comedians is a 1966 novel set in Haiti; well, it begins with a slow boat voyage across the Atlantic with a bunch of people that joke (comedy!) and drink their way into some interconnections.

Ship of fools:

(Ship of Fools is a 1962 novel by Katherine Ann Porter, a story of a group of disparate characters sailing from Mexico to Europe aboard a German passenger ship).

One guy on this sl
I've just finished this and am basking in some kind of awestruck state. The more I read of Greene, the more I'm slain. The main character, Brown, must be a sort of surrogate for the author: jaded, cynical, fatalistic; a realist who nonetheless has just enough of that kernel of optimism that allows him to hope against hope, to sometimes do the right thing even as the cowardly part of him offers token resistance.

The book takes place in Haiti in the early 1960s during the early days of the terroris
Το Άθχημο γατί του θενιόρ Γκουαναμίρου
Κεντάει ο συγγραφέας. Δεν ξέρω αν τα κατασκοπικά – ευρείας κατανάλωσης έργα του είναι εξίσου καλά, δεν με ενδιαφέρει κιόλας, αφού δεν πρόκειται να τα διαβάσω, αλλά αν κρίνω από τους “Θεατρίνους” 'εχει εξαιρετική πένα. Πρώτα από όλα, το έργο αυτό διαθέτει εξαιρετικές δόσεις χιούμορ κι έναν απίστευτο τρόπο να αποκαλύπτει την ωμή αλήθεια, ενώ είναι συνάμα ατμοσφαιρικό και έχει ολοζώντανους, αξιαγάπητους και ενδιαφέροντες χαρακτήρες. Ισορροπεί άψογα ανάμεσα στην δράση και στον στοχασμό και κρατάει α ...more

Baron Samedi faces off stick twitching Tontons Macoute. Photo by Charles Carrié

Read by Tim Piggot Smith

Description: Three men meet on a ship bound for Haiti, a world in the grip of the corrupt “Papa Doc” and the Tontons Macoute, his sinister secret police. Brown the hotelier, Smith the innocent American, and Jones the confidence man—these are the “comedians” of Greene’s title. Hiding behind their actors’ masks, they hesitate on the edge of life. They are men afraid of love, afraid of pain, afrai
A. Dawes
May 13, 2017 rated it really liked it

Must be my Graham Greene year, read him sporadically before, but now I can't seem to get enough of him.

The story takes place in the madhouse that is Haiti during the early 1960s. Haiti at the time was a melting pot of voodoo, colonialism, and terror. The corrupt dictator Papa Doc Duvalier, rules through fear and unpredictability, and many from abroad are unsafe (as are the locals).

There's comment here from Greene on how the so-called superpowers of the Cold War supported such horrific regi
Joy D
First of all, The Comedians is not a comedy, and the humor is dark. It is about the regime of “Papa Doc” Duvalier in Haiti. It graphically portrays the terrorism of the Tontons Macoute, Duvalier’s secret police. The exact year is not given but it appears to be early 1960s. It opens on a ship with the three men, Smith, Jones, and Brown, traveling to Port-au-Prince. We hear parts of their back stories during the voyage and more details upon arriving in Haiti.

Mr. Brown operates a hotel in Port-au-
May 17, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Η μεγάλη εκτίμηση και ο σεβασμός που τρέφω για τον G. Greene είναι δεδομένος. Σε όποια επαφή είχα -ακόμα έχω- με το λογοτεχνικό του έργο, η επίγευση παραμένει εκείνη της πλησμονής, της λογοτεχνικής απόλαυσης και πληρότητας. Το αυτό ανέμενα και από τους "Θεατρίνους". Πολλώ δεν μάλλον, όταν οι απανταχού κριτικές και αναγνώστες "παιάνιζαν" "Αριστούργημα!" και λοιπούς πληθωριστικούς χαρακτηρισμούς θαυμασμού.
Τα προαναφερθέντα δεν πιστεύω πως ισχύουν στην περίπτωση των "Θεατρίνων", μυθιστορήματος που
Jul 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: graham-greene
Always a pleasure for me to discover and read a new Greene novel. Great characters with the world weary, cynical and jaded main character lumbered with a hotel in Haiti at the time of Papa Doc’s crazy dictatorship. A love hate relationship with the German wife of an ambassador.

The semi abandoned hotel suddenly gets a US presidential vegetarian candidate. He has decided to go to Haiti with the insane and challenging idea of opening a vegetarian centre in Haiti! Another mysterious and dubious gue
The Comedians is a book that can be enjoyed for the superficial things alone. On the surface, the book is a thrilling adventure and a novel of place, set in Haiti. The book begins on a ship carrying a few interesting characters - the first person narrator Mr.Brown, the vegetarian couple the Smiths, the spooky Jones and the silent African who can only answer with yes or no. Mr.Brown owns the Hotel Trianon in the uncertain land of Haiti. The Smiths have arrived in Haiti to establish a vegetarian s ...more
Oct 01, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
Several years back, after reading Robert Stone’s (underappreciated) Bay of Souls, I saw someone somewhere say that Stone had departed from his Conradian foundation, and had pulled a Delillo on readers. I puzzled over that, because even though Bay of Souls is a change in approach, I didn’t see any of the incomprehensible Falling Man in Stone’s hallucinogenic tropical nightmare book. With Graham Greene’s The Comedians, however, I believe I have found the source for Stone’s trippy foray. And it ma ...more
Aug 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: other
Είμαι πολύ λίγος για να μιλήσω για τον Graham Greene, μου αρέσει οτιδήποτε έχει γράψει και θέλω να διαβάσω τα άπαντα. Δεν θέλω να πω τίποτα παρα μόνό ότι η σκιαγράφιση των χαρακτήρων είναι τόσο ζωντανή όσο κανενός σύγχρονου συγγραφέα ένω τα ηθικά διλήμματα είναι πραγματικά χωρίς να έχουν φτηνό μελόδραμα και αναμόχλευση των κλισέ. Πάντα τέτοια!!
Although I’ve yet to read everything by Graham Greene, and he’s one of my favorite authors with several novels ranking ‘Top 100’ status, The Comedians by him has now elbowed its way up there among the ‘amazingly unforgettable’ stories at the top.

As with most GG books, it shares a tropical but not exotic setting: Haiti, under François Duvalier, un-affectionately known as “Papa Doc”, elected president in 1957 on a populist and black nationalist platform, who ruled the poverty-stricken country fro
Mar 28, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: currently
Monstrously good -- and disturbing.

A few hundred miles off the Florida coast you'll find "an evil floating slum," says Greene, who makes us aware of the violent and corrupt republic of Haiti. Throughout the 60s it was ruled by Papa "Doc" Duvalier, a crackpot viper-tyrant (Hitler meets a runaway from any PG Wodehouse novel), who jibbered anti-Com jingles. Result: he murdered thousands of his own people while pocketing millions in US aid.

Welcome to a perfect Greeneland. (If GG were alive he'd writ
May 28, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Αντιλαμβάνομαι πολύ περισσότερο την ουσία του Ensam τώρα, ειδικά μετά τους Θεατρίνους. Ενδιαφέρον βιβλίο, κολλητικό, παρήγορο, συγγενικό μου, φρέσκο, κυνικό και όμως παλιό, ξεφτισμένο και πλούσιο, σα να γράφτηκε τώρα μόλις, ή πριν εκατό χρόνια. Λέει ο Γκρην πως γεννηθήκαμε και προετοιμαζόμασταν για μια ζωή τραγωδίας κι ωστόσο όλα τα συστατικά δημιουργούν συνεχόμενες και συνεχιζόμενες σκηνές κωμωδίας. Απόλυτα εξοπλισμένοι και γαλουχημένοι για να αντιμετωπίσουμε το δράμα, είμαστε λίγοι, ρηχοί, ψεύ ...more
Dec 27, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2012
"We mustn't complain too much of being comedians—it's an honourable profession. If only we could be good ones the world might gain at least a sense of style. We have failed—that's all. We are bad comedians, we aren't bad men."

I started out thinking I was going to just read a 'minor' Greene, and finished the novel once again shocked by my ability to completely underestimate Greene. The Comedians is a dark tragedy set in a Haitian Hell ruled by Papa Doc and his Tonton Macoute. Into this tortured h
Apr 03, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Persnickety Narrator sounds Like "Before Man" in Ex Lax Radio Ad

I don't mind so much Greene's hatred of the U.S. in this novel (set on the island of Hispaniola, mainly in Haiti), which is above average insofar as novels go in an intriguing, if not suspenseful, story line, and relatively interesting characters. Though I do prefer Greene's Catholic novels, since few can really successfully aim a grudge or resentment, the likes of which Greene had with the United States.

Yet, I must say that the nar
This books starts with the three main male characters, and one of the main female characters on a ship, the Medea, bound for Haiti. They are thrown together due to being the only European passengers.
They each travel to Haiti for quite different reasons.

I enjoyed this book perhaps more than any other Graham Greene novel I have read so far. Perhaps it is because the fiction is carefully wrapped in a very real setting, time and situation - Haiti in the 1960s. The time of François 'Papa Doc' Duvalie
Jul 18, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: novels-english
This was ok -- some interesting reflections on the comedians in the middle -- but frankly, imo, and given Greene's stature, it should have been better. Hence, a book that's just a notch below 4 gets rounded down to 3.

First of all, it has none of the aching beauty of the Quiet American -- perhaps because Haiti is not as romantic in my eyes as is Vietnam. Secondly, for a book that pretends to be a political thriller (of sorts), the plot is simply much, much too loose. It really feels as though he
Mar 25, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own-copy
What a wonderful novel.

Set in Haiti during the reign of Papa Doc Duvalier and his Tonton Macoute, it is the story of three lonely people with the names of Smith, Jones and Brown who meat on a steamer on route to Haiti. This story of love, loss, murder, revenge and jealousy is wonderfully written and truely evokes the feelings of repression and helplessness that must have existed during this period.

Graham Greene's writing is as always impeccable and a joy to read.

I loved this book, and would high
Paul Secor
The Comedians is almost - almost - as dark as a pair of Tontons Macoute sunglasses.

After I finished reading The Comedians, I read Paul Theroux's introduction and wondered why he wrote it, since his opinion of it is not very high. After very little thought, the answer is that he was paid to write it and it was just another writing gig. Then I wondered why Penguin accepted his introduction and printed it. I couldn't come up with an answer for that one. If I
Evi *
Dec 17, 2017 marked it as abbandonato  ·  review of another edition
Non avrei mai pensato di abbandonare un libro di Graham Greene, non è un abbandono definitivo perchè è Greene, ma evidentemente per me non è il suo momento.
Apr 05, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction
3.75 stars

My enjoyment while reading this 292-page novel was somewhere between his "Brighton Rock" (3.5) and "The Honorary Consul" (4) so I added .25 for it. First published in 1966, the novel seemed uninteresting in its first one third so I had no choice but kept going and gradually found that it was arguably enjoyable, that is, we can enjoy it if we don't mind its various characters who, willingly or unwillingly, involve in Haiti under the rule of Papa Doc, especially the Tontons Macoute, his
Daniel Villines
Nov 28, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Our lives are spent creating our own realities by mixing facts and beliefs together. The result may be plausible but it certainly is not real. And who can blame us? This very mixture helped us to survive. Fact: the lion is stalking me. Belief: if I run to that place, I will live. And so societies are born, careers are made, and we survive all because we acted on the facts at hand in conjunction with our beliefs in an outcome.

At times, however, the mixture becomes grossly imbalanced. Our beliefs
Not a terribly funny book, despite the title. Not that I expected it to be, given other stuff I've read by him. I was mostly intrigued by the fact that it takes place in Haiti during Papa Doc Duvalier's regime: a supremely messed-up time and place. And Greene does Haiti well; it seems like they were made for each other, though I've got the feeling Greene can evoke any place pretty well. This is marginally lighter fare than either The Power and the Glory or The Heart of the Matter, and considerab ...more
" ‘Any news of the Baron?’ It was the name some gave to the President as an alternative to Papa Doc – we dignified his shambling shabby figure with the title of Baron Samedi, who in the Voodoo mythology haunts the cemeteries in his top-hat and tails, smoking his big cigar. ‘They say he hasn’t been seen for three months. He doesn’t even come to a window of the palace to watch the band. He might be dead for all anyone knows. If he can die without a silver bullet."

So far, The Comedians is my favour
May 18, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Graham Greene is my new favorite author. Paul Theroux dissed this book in his introduction, but it was just Paul Theroux showing that he doesn't know much. This is sort of a book about Haiti and totalitarianism and brutality and corruption and the Evil Empire (America) but it is more a book about loss, rootlessness, the emptiness of the middle of the night, fatherlessness, faith and lack thereof... Greene is deep, clean, concise. Theroux says that it seems dated 40 years on, but that's only if y ...more
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Henry Graham Greene, OM, CH was an English novelist, short story writer, playwright, screenplay writer, travel writer and critic whose works explore the ambivalent moral and political issues of the modern world. Greene combined serious literary acclaim with wide popularity.

Although Greene objected strongly to being described as a “Catholic novelist” rather than as a “novelist who happened to be Ca

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