The Haha Man by Sandy McCutcheon

Reviewed by
April 2004, no. 260
Buy this book
Nicola Walker reviews 'The Haha Man' by Sandy McCutcheon

The Haha Man

by Sandy McCutcheon

HarperCollins, $29.95 pb, 406 pp

Buy this book

The Haha Man by Sandy McCutcheon

Reviewed by
April 2004, no. 260

It’s not racism that makes my mother – once a poor girl from the Welsh valleys – side with the Howard government on the refugee issue: it’s an instinctive territorial defensiveness that can be easily exploited by emotive phrases: illegals, queue jumpers, people smugglers. She’s not alone, if her friends, other relatively prosperous, tax-paying senior Australian citizens, are anything to go by; but it’s not a hardline position. All it might take to soften their attitude is a copy of The Haha Man by Sandy McCutcheon, a rollicking good read that highlights the refugee plight without a whiff of the lecture hall.

McCutcheon, no doubt familiar to many readers as an ABC radio journalist, has a remarkable number of other strings to his bow. He has written twenty-two plays and six novels, lived and travelled abroad a good deal, dabbled in various jobs, and been a Buddhist for twenty-five years. Judging from the awards he has collected along the way, he brings to his interests a well-informed flair. He joins a list of high-profile Australian writers who have, in very different ways, questioned this country’s response to asylum seekers, by and large with one purpose in mind: to change public opinion. (I can’t think of a single book that endorses the government’s stance.) With this in mind, it’s a fair bet that The Haha Man, a paperback emblazoned with the typography of the thriller, has the edge over its most obvious predecessor, Tom Keneally’s The Tyrant’s Novel.

Nicola Walker reviews 'The Haha Man' by Sandy McCutcheon

The Haha Man

by Sandy McCutcheon

HarperCollins, $29.95 pb, 406 pp

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