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  • The Material

Serpents Tail

The Material

by Camille Bordas.

  • £16.99
  • Available
  • Hardback published on 04/07/2024
  • Page count: 352 pages
  • ISBN: 9781805220060
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Quick take

A literary star ascending makes her UK debut with a novel about the funniest people's saddest stories/


Every comedian knows that there's a line between sharp and cruel, that sad becomes funny at the right angle, that any moment in life, however painful or triumphant, has the potential to become a punchline.

At the Chicago Stand-up School, success is about the material. But maybe Artie is too handsome to be taken seriously on stage, Olivia too scared to examine her past, and Phil too afraid to cause harm. Their teachers are obsessed with failure: Kruger trying to command his father's respect, Ashbee weary of the way his Blackness attracts a type of white admirer, Dorothy wondering how her talent is connected to her loneliness.

Whether a visiting comedian-the famous, controversy-steeped Manny Reinhardt-will do more to help or to harm their cause remains to be seen. Set over the course of a single day, and shifting exquisitely between several points of view, The Material examines life through the eyes of a band of outsiders bound together by the need to laugh, and the desire to make others laugh even harder.

About the author

Camille Bordas is the author of three prize-winning novels. The most recent, How to Behave in a Crowd, was the first she wrote in English. The earlier two, Partie Commune and Les Treize Desserts, were written in her native French. Her short stories regularly appear in the New Yorker. Born in France, raised in Mexico City and Paris, she currently lives in Chicago.

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More books published by Serpents Tail

Pete Ayrton founded Serpent’s Tail in 1986 with a mission to introduce British readers to risk-taking world literature no one else in the UK was publishing. The list established a reputation for its diversity of voice and fearlessness.

View all books by Serpents Tail

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