I received an advance copy of ‘Number Eight Crispy Chicken’ by Sarah Neofield, her debut novel. The book was scheduled to come out on 20th January 2020…Well, I am a day late in posting this review. But, what a wonderful and unique book!
‘Number Eight Crispy Chicken’ is a political satire set in the modern world grappling with immigration issues and developed nations exploiting the underdeveloped. It is, indeed, a peep into the personality of people in power, their arrogance, and indifference in general.
Peter is the Minister for Asylum Deterrence and Foreign Investment in Furtivus, we are in a fictional landscape. But, ofcourse affected by real issues, one of them being deterring the immigrants from reaching Furtivian soil. Their strategy has been to locate isolated islands and turning them into detention centres and tax havens. Peter is the man with the ‘Ultimate Solution’ coining terms like ‘Boat People’ to keep Furtivus in prosperity by diverting the illegal immigrants to their detention centres. On a business trip to Pulcherrima, Peter meets his worst nightmare. Peter misses his connecting flight to Pulcherrima from Turgistan and is stuck at the airport. His solutions to deter asylum seekers are the very ones that now reduce him to live on a meal coupon of ‘Number Eight Crispy Chicken’ from the airport food outlet.
Sarah Neofield mentions the misadventures of Peter who ends up in his own dystopia – trapped in a foreign airport is based on her travel experiences and research on immigration policies affecting those seeking refuge.
It is hilarious how Peter is caricatured, the character is superbly funny. There are times when he is hell-bent on calling tents as ‘temporary canvas housing units’ based in centres and not in camps. The narrative aptly portrays the present day obsession with nomenclatures, irrespective of any tangible difference at the ground level.
There are junctures where you see Tom Hanks from ‘The Terminal’ in Peter, but the protagonist of Number Eight Crispy Chicken is rather evil and facing the wrath of his own doing. Peter was habituated with his privileges, flashing his ‘Priority Clearance pass’ in the airports across his travel destinations but at Turgistan, he is nothing more than his boarding pass number. Peter’s arrogance is further exposed when he meets with Jeremy, the fellow passenger, whom he refuses to treat as an equal even under the conspicuous circumstances.
“Peter wouldn’t mind a Crispy Chicken himself. He’d already had a chicken and lettuce sandwich for lunch, but he couldn’t remember the last time he’d enjoyed a burger. Certainly not since his ex had first started going on at him about improving his health.”
Well, Peter is skilled at political negotiations and business presentations but can this skill-set save his day at the Turgistani soil?
In Peter’s trepidations, the author tries to portray the issues of the immigrants detained in foreign soil. There are layers of crisis before Peter as he steps in to face the unfriendly, non-co-operative officials at the Turgistan airport.
Sarah Neofield has an amazing power for imagination as she builds up this fictional world around Peter, the sole character unfolding the plot for the readers. If you are someone keen on political news and world affairs then this is definitely a great book for you.
You can grab your copy of Number Eight Crispy Chicken
Minister for Asylum Deterrence and Foreign Investment, Peter Ruddick, is en route to the remote Pulcherrima Island, the site of his latest privately-run, fast food chain-inspired detention centre. But chaos ensues when Peter misses his connecting flight and finds himself confined to the visa-free zone of the Turgrael airport, without a business lounge in sight.
Stranded in a foreign territory with nothing but McKing’s Crispy Chicken burgers to eat and nobody but a bleeding heart liberal, his seat-mate Jeremy Bernard for company, Peter’s misunderstandings of Turgistani language and culture result in his arrest on suspicion of terrorism, perversion, and espionage.
Peter has always had the power to get away with just about anything, but how will he sweet talk his way out of this one? What if he winds up – like those in his centres – indefinitely detained?
‘Hilarious’ and ‘powerful’, Number Eight Crispy Chicken is a carefully researched, funny, and thought-provoking read for fans of the social novels of Tressell, Orwell, Dickens, and Vonnegut.
About the Author
Sarah Neofield grew up in regional South Australia before living in Japan for a year. Always fascinated by language, she completed a PhD in applied linguistics in 2010. She has written extensively on the topics of intercultural communication, how we communicate online, and language learning.
At the age of 30, Sarah resigned from her position as a university lecturer to travel, and since has visited over 60 countries.
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