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Extended Audio Sample The Happiest People in the World, by Brock Clarke Click for printable size audiobook cover
0 out of 50 out of 50 out of 50 out of 50 out of 5 0.00 (0 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Brock Clarke Narrator: Adam Black Publisher: Highbridge Audio Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date:
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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!

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Quotes & Awards

  • “Brock Clarke’s hilarious new novel starts out in rural Denmark, then takes us someplace really foreign and utterly weird: upstate New York. The parallel universe Clarke creates there is both our world and not, and like his baffled, yearning characters, we navigate it with surprise and wonder.”

    Richard Russo, New York Times bestselling author of The Old Cape Magic

  • “A literary first: a book that feels like the love child of Saul Bellow and Hogan’s Heroes, full of authorial cartwheels of comedy and profundity.”

    GQ

  • “[A] dark and funny satire…The ridiculous confusion of infidelities, secret identities, and double-crosses that plays out reflects the absurdity of any country obsessed with spying on its own people.”

    Wall Street Journal

  • “[Clarke has] success in dreaming up oddball originals that have instant appeal.”

    New York Times

  • “It’s like what might have come to be had the Coen brothers collaborated with the Three Stooges: an energetic exercise in the incompatible mediums of dark humor and slapstick, in which nobody ever really knows what the hell is going on, the reader included…Clarke’s work can be seen as a continuing investigation into American haplessness; his characters are forever powerless against their own worst impulses and against the vicissitudes of fate.”

    New York Times Book Review

  • “A whiz-bang spy satire bundled in an edgy tale of redemption…Clarke dazzles with a dizzying study in extremes, cruising at warp speed between bleak and optimistic, laugh-out-loud funny and unbearable sadness. His comedy of errors is impossible to put down.”

    Publishers Weekly (starred review)

  • “The funniest and smartest novel I have read in years. ‘Yes!’ I thought, as I read these pages. ‘That’s how you write a good book.’”

    Hannah Tinti, author The Good Thief

  • “Murder, arson, adultery, drugging and drinking, cruel politics—reading a book crammed with such activities can make the timid and yearning among us feel like the happiest people in the world.”

    Edith Pearlman, author of Binocular Vision

  • “If the literary category of ‘mordant fable’ exists at all, it may be because Brock Clarke invented it. The Happiest People in the World is everything we fans have come to love from a Clarke novel: playful and deliriously skewed, and somehow balancing between genuinely great-hearted and gloriously weird.”

    Lauren Groff, author of Arcadia

  • “Brock Clarke has long been one of my favorite writers, and this novel, good lord, is his best one yet. In The Happiest People in the World, Clarke portrays, with terrifying accuracy, the lives of people who constantly ruin things without ever quite understanding why or how, which eventually gives way to a strange kind of invulnerability. There is no writer who does this better than him, creating that wonderful mixture of unexpected, sharp comedy and genuine empathy. The Danes may be the happiest people in the world, but you can easily join those ranks by simply reading this amazing book.”

    Kevin Wilson, author of The Family Fang

  • “Like no other writer in contemporary American literature, Brock Clarke has a way of looking at us, I mean looking straight at us—warts, lots of warts, and beauty and hypocrisy and love, too, the gamut. And he’s done it again in this brilliant The Happiest People in the World, a novel that is as hilarious and thought-provoking as it is ultimately, deadly, deadly serious. I for one am grateful he’s out there—watching our every move.”

    Peter Orner, author of Esther Stories 

  • “Adam Black’s narration is like having a high-energy drink after a couple of espressos. His rapid, angst-ridden pace captures the bewilderment Jens, newly christened Henry Larsen, feels when he’s installed as a high school guidance counselor in Broomeville, New York. Talk about culture shock! In this novel filled with wonderfully bizarre characters, Shakespearean dilemmas, and hilarious, if bloody, outcomes, Black’s wicked narration and Brock Clarke’s no-holds-barred wackiness prove laugh-out-loud funny.”

    AudioFile

  • A BookPage Top Pick in Satirical Fiction for November 2014
  • A New York Times Editor’s Choice
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