"Our hero, prospective Japanese high-flyer Akira Suzuki, comes to London for a little international polish. He ponders te litter and the unappealing food, he smiles politely at predictable motor-cycle jokes about his name (brrm! brrm!), and thinks, So this is the famous British sense of humour. He combines qualities, calssical and modern, that are admired in Japan - but Suzuki gets the run-around. Seduced by two very different women, he inadvertently bursts into a world of Dockland penthouse and Mayfair club; and for one exquisitely embarrassing and erotic hour he is caught between two cultures.
"Only the incomparable Clive James could have devised such an instructive, deliciously funny and compelling ambush."
Before the English girl exploded into his life like the torch of a flame-thrower through the slit of a pill-box, Suzuki had been leading the dream existence of every young Japanese man in London. When dealing with the natives it was tiresome to feign pleasure at clumsy jokes about how his name was the same as that of the motor-cycle. But it would have been impolite not to, and anyway, he did not have to give his name very often. If he had been working for a big company he would have had to sit down on the other side of the table from the local people and Exchange Views, which would have meant an exchange of names. The same name as the motor-cycle: Oh yes, most amusing. Brrm! Brrm! Ha ha. The famous English sense of humour, in Suzuki's experience, consisted largely of asking you to share their delight at a mortal insult. No doubt he was missing the nuances.
From the Jonathan Cape hardback edition, 1991.
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