Various Pets Alive and Dead

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Fig Tree, 2012 - Adult children - 367 pages
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Most normal parents, you'd think, would be pleased to have a son not yet thirty and earning ninety grand a year. But not Doro and Marcus. They'd consider it the ultimate betrayal of his ideals, meaning their ideals, because Serge doesn't claim to have any ideals apart from a vague general sense of goodwill towards mankind. And womankind. Especially Maroushka.

Marcus and Doro were part of a left wing commune from the late 1960s until the early 1990s- lentils, free love, spliffs, Left politics, cheesecloth blouses, sex, housework and cooking rotas, crochet, allotments. Their children have grown up rather different from them- primary schoolteacher Clara craves order and clean bathrooms, son Serge is pretending to his parents that he is still doing a Maths PhD at Cambridge, while in fact working making loadsamoney in the City; third child Oolie Anna, who has Downs Syndrome, is desperate to escape home and live on her own. Set half in Doncaster, half in London, this is a very funny riff on modern values, featuring hamsters, cockroaches, poodles, a Chicken and multiplying rabbits, told by Marina Lewycka in her unique and brilliant combination of irony, farce and wit.

'An astute and hilarious take on modern values.' Stylist

'Lewycka treats her characters with real affection and combines the big themes and acutely-observed details with characteristic lightness of touch.' Daily Mail

'Lewycka displays a similar mix of astringent humour and worldly humanism in her forth novel as she did in her acclaimed debut...... a funny, farcical novel' METRO

''Lewycka is a warm and humane writer...... the novel is most affecting.' Sunday Telegraph

'Thank heavens for Marina Lewycka whose Various Pets Alive and Deadme laugh at least once in every chapter...... The warmth of its tone, its zest, its blend of quirky, humane comedy and intellectual seriousness make this a novel to treasure.' New Statesman

'An affectionate picture of a free-thinking, beatnik lifestyle now regarded as batty, but which was underpinned by a real desire to change the world. We could all do with a bit more of that.' The Herald

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About the author (2012)

Marina Lewycka was born of Ukrainian parents in a refugee camp in Kiel, Germany, at the end of the war, and grew up in England. She teaches at Sheffield Hallam University. She is married, with a grown-up daughter, and lives in Sheffield. Her first novel, A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian, was translated into 28 languages and was also long listed for The Man Booker Prize 2005, short listed for The Orange Prize for Fiction 2005 and winner of the Bollinger Everyman prize for Comic Fiction 2005 and the Saga Award for Wit 2005. Her second novel Two Caravansis published in February 2007.

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