King of the Badgers

Front Cover
HarperCollins Publishers, Mar 31, 2011 - Fiction - 300 pages
3 Reviews

After the success of The Northern Clemency, shortlisted for the 2008 Man Booker Prize, Philip Hensher brings us another slice of contemporary life, this time the peaceful civility and spiralling paranoia of a small English town.

After the success of The Mulberry Empire and The Northern Clemency, which was short-listed for the 2008 Man Booker Prize, Philip Hensher brings us the peaceful civility and spiralling paranoia of the small English town of Handsmouth.

Usually a quiet and undisturbed place situated on an estuary, Handsmouth becomes the centre of national attention when an eight-year-old girl vanishes. The town fills with journalists and television crews, who latch onto the public's fearful suspicions that the missing girl, the daughter of one of the town's working-class families, was abducted.

This tragic event serves to expose the range of segregated existences in the town, as spectrums of class, wealth and lifestyle are blurred in the investigation. Behind Handsmouth's closed doors and pastoral fašade the extraordinary individual lives of the community are exposed. The undisclosed passions of a quiet international aid worker are set against his wife, a woman whose astonishing aptitude for intellectual pursuits, such as piano-playing and elaborate cooking, makes her seem a paragon of virtue to the outside world. A recently-widowed old woman tells a story that details her late discovery of sexual gratification. And the Bears - middle-aged, fat, hairy gay men, given to promiscuity and some drug abuse - have a party.

As the search for the missing girl elevates, the case enables a self-appointed authority figure to present the case for increased surveillance, and, as old notions of privacy begin to crack, private lives seep into the public well of knowledge.

Handsmouth is a powerful study of the vital importance of individuality, the increasingly intrusive hand of political powers and the unyielding strength of Nature against the worst excesses of human behaviour.

What people are saying - Write a review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - page.fault - LibraryThing

Let me start by saying that my rating reflects my personal experience: this may indeed be fantastic literature; it just wasn't a good fit for me. Before I go into why, an attempt to help match the ... Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - pamjw - LibraryThing

The story begins in the supposedly quiet town of Hanmouth, with the disappearance of a young girl. What goes on to unfold about the lives of the inhabitants reveals that, behind closed doors, their ... Read full review

Other editions - View all

About the author (2011)

Philip Hensher is a columnist for the Independent, arts critic for the Spectator and a Granta Best of Young British novelist. He has written ten novels, including The Mulberry Empire, King of the Badgers and the Booker-shortlisted ‘The Northern Clemenc, and one collection of short stories. He is Professor of Creative Writing at Bath Spa University and lives in London.

Bibliographic information