Absolutely ridiculous and very entertaining. Every character in this book, from the cricket club elites to the nefarious Chinese trying to take over the world by, umm, starting with the cricket club, is laughable. All, that is, except the enterprising young journalist, a Brit who took a job in Beijing with the China Daily and is determined not to give into the mind games of the Chinese media -- wait, wasn't all that in the author's bio? Yes, that too.
Throughout the book, Newham is telling us that just because he's paranoid doesn't mean the Chinese aren't out to take over the world. Over and over he tells us that the food is the only saving grace of the Chinese culture. But what he shows us of Britain, with its hierarchy, its fawning over the rich, its superciliousness, obsession with history long gone, and all its navel-gazing, seems hardly worth the effort of overtaking. Surely these fellows will drown themselves in time -- no need to interfere.
But the Chinese in the book are nothing if not ambitious. They are taking over the oil industry, the flower industry, but most importantly, and most astoundingly, the game of cricket. They're changing the rules! Introducing technology! Condemning the game to popularity and accessibility to the common joe!
As shocking as all this is, it's sure to get a different reaction from us yankees than from the native Brit population. But it's right at home in the tradition of British comedy. Nefarious plans circle around on other secret, nefarious plans, all couched in some tut-tutting and civilized rage. The fact that the book ends unresolved seems hardly surprising -- the tail-chasing round and round could go on forever at this rate.
I got a free copy of this delightful read through the Goodreads Firstreads program.