The Angry Island

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The Angry Island

by AA Gill | Weidenfeld & Nicolson

AA Gill is famed for his acerbic wit. Having built his reputation as a restaurant and TV critic, as well as through his biting travel columns, he now turns his attention to home. Or rather, to England and the English – and Gill is only too keen to point out that he is, in fact, a Scot.

He sets out to unearth what it is that defines the national character of the English, by examining their relationship with a variety of oh-so-English customs. What is it about received pronunciation, war memorials, the class system, the bullyboy humour, the English garden, the fastidious rule-making in sports, and the classic English queue, that somehow seem peculiar to this island?

For Gill, an Englishman’s greatest achievement is in resisting the urge to go crazy with an axe in a cul-de-sac

For Gill, it’s all to do with anger: a pent-up rage just waiting to be let out and wreak havoc. How the English suppress this anger, and the channels they find to make it useful and benign, are what have created the essential character. For Gill, an Englishman’s greatest achievement is in resisting the urge to go crazy with an axe in a cul-de-sac.

An extract from this book, printed in The Sunday Times, sparked angry letters from readers upset at his national slurs: but that somehow only goes to prove his point. And, anyway, it’s all just a bit of fun, tongue-in-cheek, isn’t it? Or is that just my own anger-reducing coping mechanism?

First published: Traveller magazine Winter 2005-2006
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