The scenes set in the past are reminiscent of Evelyn Waugh's Decline and Fall in their grotesque stupidity and amorality, and the present-day characters are as ruthless as any in modern noir fiction. It also makes a persuasive argument for the moral repercussions of Darwinism and the absurdities of fascism and repressed homosexuality, but that's just three aspects of a witty, fascinating and romping read.
Debut bout is a real knockout . . . dazzling
Ned Beauman's astonishingly assured debut starts as it means to go on: confident, droll, and not in the best of taste . . . Many first novels are judged promising. Boxer, Beetle arrives fully formed: original, exhilarating and hugely enjoyable.
Beauman writes with wit and verve.
a piece of staggeringly energetic intellectual slapstick . . . it's crammed with strange, funny and interesting things
an enjoyable confection; witty, ludicrous and entertaining
An astonishing debut...buzzing with energy, fizzing with ideas, intoxicating in its language, Boxer, Beetle is sexy, intelligent and deliriously funny
Dazzling . . . As in PG Wodehouse and the early Martin Amis the tone is mischievous and impudent without being merely jaunty or wacky . . . in Erksine and Broom we have two endlessly curious heroes whose thoughts are fascinating even at their silliest.
Beauman skips with panache between his dreadful version of the present and the macabre absurdities of a period when cock-eyed science and rabid anti-Semitism provided a toxic cocktail for the upper classes. His killer irony evokes early Evelyn Waugh, and his lateral take on reality Will Self at his unsettling best. This is humour that goes beyond black, careening off into regions of darkness to deliver the funniest new book I've read in a year or two.
Exuberant . . . There are politics, black comedy, experimentation and wild originality - and I haven't even got to the beetles. Terrific.
A witty, erudite debut . . . thick with trivia, it confidently takes on British fascism, the Thule society, anti-Semitism, atonal composition, sex, and the class system . . . An articulate and original romp . . . often gobsmackingly smutty. Beauman is one to watch.
A rambunctious, deftly-plotted delight of a debut
The 1930s are wonderfully evoked, and the historical sections of the novel are taut, thematically rich and extremely well written . . . it takes real skill to make a tragic hero out of the five-foot, nine-toed alcoholic Seth Roach . . . it's clear from this compelling debut that Beauman can perform the complicated paradoxical trick required of the best 21st-century realist novelists: to take an old and predictable structure and allow it to produce new and unpredictable connections.
Clever, inventive, intelligently structured, genre-spanning, as magpie-like in its references as any graphic novel, and above all, an enjoyable, high-octane read through a fascinating period in history.
Not one for the easily shocked, young scribe Ned Beauman subjects the reader to a parade of ghoulish events and ghastly theories throughout his dazzling first novel Boxer, Beetle . . . deeply researched and punchily written, this is an utterly unique work that marks the London-based author out as an exciting new voice in fiction.
I can only gape in admiration at a new writing force and wonder what he's going to produce next.
Its ambitions are enormous, in terms of the range, energy and quality of the writing
An edifying treatise on the absurdity of eugenics and racial theories, and probably the most politically incorrect novel of the decade - as well as the funniest . . . Monstrous misfits with ugly motives are beautifully rendered in a novel where Beauman's scrupulous research is deftly threaded through serious themes in a laugh-out-loud-on-the-train history lesson.
'This first novel is as oddball and rambunctious as it sounds. It's also funny, raw and stylish.'