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The dictator and the hammock - Daniel Pennac

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The dictator and the hammock
Daniel Pennac
Paperback / softback
Vintage Books
UK Publication Date

Manuel Pereira da Ponte Martins, beloved dictator of the state of Teresina in Brazil, develops agoraphobia the day a fortune-teller predicts he will die being torn limb from limb by an angry mob. His life becomes unbearable and he decides to hire a double to stand in while he set off to enjoy himself in the fleshpots of Europe.

A few years later, the barber-turned-dictator also grows tired of running the country and employs the same trick as his predecessor to leave for Hollywood. On the boat there, he introduces himself as Charlie Chaplin. But everyone is convinced that he is none other than Rudolph Valentino disguised as Chaplin. When he arrives in New York, both the real actors are waiting for him.

Back in Teresina, the doubles follow one another, fooling the people with ease. Then Pereira comes back. He is astonished to discover that his stand-in doesn't look anything like him and reacts in a way that can only precipitate his meeting with Fate.

The Dictator and The Hammockis wildly original and extremely funny.

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Daniel Pennac was born in Casablanca in 1944, his father being in the army. He travelled widely in his youth, in Europe, Asia and Africa, and has been employed in a number of capacities, including woodcutter, Paris cab driver, illustrator and schoolteacher. His 'Belleville Quintet', written round the character of Benjamin Malaussne has been published in many languages.

"The wealth of subsidiary narratives - all the impeccably crafted anecdotes and myths and allegories, stories large and small...produce a sophisticated reading experience and suggest a writer whose political view is amused and tart. They are so good, these stories, and so intelligently amusing, and they arrive so frequently, that we never have time to think of asking for more"
Times Literary Supplement - M. John Harrison

"Patricia Clancy's beautifully tuned ear has given us the full equivalent of Pennac's French humour, half erudite clowning and half absurdist whimsy. His style, seemingly offhand, is studiously exact and Clancy respectfully follows his precisely scripted convolutions"
Guardian - Alberto Manguel

"His adult fiction retains a childlike quality, existing in an imaginary realm where childhood and adulthood blur; reminiscent of Italo Calvino"
Daily Telegraph - Carol Ann Duffy

"A darkly comic meditation on life, death and the illusions of power"
New Statesman - Daniel Trilling

"A quirky, original comedy"
In Style Magazine

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