Take the format of a spy thriller, shape it around real-life
incidents involving international terrorism, leaven it with dark and dry humor,
toss in a love rectangle, give everybody a gun, and let everything play out in
the outer reaches of upstate New York—there you have an idea of Brock Clarke’s
new novel, The
Happiest People in the World.
Who are “the happiest people in the world”? Theoretically, it’s all the people who live in Denmark, the country that gave the world Hans
Christian Andersen fairy tales and the open-faced sandwich. But Denmark is also
where some political cartoonists got into very unhappy trouble when they
attempted to depict Muhammad in their drawings, which prompted protests, arson,
and even assassination attempts.
Imagine that one of those cartoonists, given
protection through the CIA, is relocated to a small town in upstate New York
where he is provided a job as a high school guidance counselor. Once there he
manages to fall in love with the wife of the high school principal, who himself
is trying to get over the effects of a misguided love affair with the very CIA
agent who sent the cartoonist to him. Imagine also that virtually every other
person in this tiny town is a CIA operative.
Written in a tone that is simultaneously filled with wonder and anger in almost equal parts, The Happiest People in the World is a darkly funny tale of paranoia, the
all-American obsession with security, and the conspiracies that threaten it. Download and start listening now!