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Cover image for The gone-away world
The gone-away world

1st American ed.
Publication Information:
New York : Alfred A. Knopf, 2008.
Physical Description:
497 pages ; 24 cm
General Note:
"A Borzoi book."
With a fire burning along the Jorgmund Pipe, a vital protection from the bandits and monsters left in the wake of the Go-Away War, Gonzo Lubitsch and his colleagues at the Haulage and HazMat Emergency Civil Freebooting Company are hired to put it out.


Call Number
Harkaway, N.
Harkaway, N.

On Order



A wildly entertaining debut novel, introducing a bold new voice that combines antic humor (think Joseph Heller and Kurt Vonnegut) with a stunning futuristic vision (a la A Clockwork Orange and 1984, with a little Mad Max thrown in) to give us an electrifyingly original tale of love, friendship, and the apocalypse. There couldn't be a fire along the Jorgmund Pipe. It was the last thing the world needed. But there it was, burning bright on national television. The Pipe was what kept the Livable Zone safe from the bandits, monsters, and nightmares the Go-Away War had left in its wake. The fire was a very big problem. Enter Gonzo Lubitsch and his friends, the Haulage & HazMat Emergency Civil Freebooting Company, a team of master troubleshooters who roll into action when things get particularly hot. They helped build the Pipe. Now they have to preserve it--and save humanity yet again. But this job is not all it seems. It will touch more closely on Gonzo's life--and that of his best friend--than either of them can imagine. And it will decide the fate of the Gone-Away World. Equal parts raucous adventure, comic odyssey, geek nirvana, and ultra-cool epic, The Gone-Away World is a story of--among other things--love, pirates, mimes, greed, and ninjas. But it is also the story of a world, not unlike our own, in desperate need of heroes--however unlikely they may seem.

Author Notes

Nick Harkaway was born in Cornwall in 1972. He studied philosophy, sociology and politics at Clare College, Cambridge, and then worked in the film industry. The Gone-Away World is his first novel. He lives in London with his wife.

Reviews 4

Publisher's Weekly Review

This unclassifiable debut from the son of legendary thriller author John le Carré is simultaneously a cautionary tale about the absurdity of war; a sardonic science fiction romp through Armageddon; a conspiracy-fueled mystery replete with ninjas, mimes and cannibal dogs; and a horrifying glimpse of a Lovecraftian near-future. Go Away bombs have erased entire sections of reality from the face of the Earth. A nameless soldier and his heroic best friend witness firsthand the unimaginable aftermath outside the Livable Zone, finding that the world has unraveled and is home to an assortment of nightmarish mutations. With the fate of humankind in the balance, the pair become involved in an unlikely and potentially catastrophic love triangle. Readers who prefer linear, conventional plotlines may find Harkaway overly verbose and frustratingly tangential, but those intrigued by works that blur genre boundaries will find this wildly original hybrid a challenging and entertaining entry in the post-apocalyptic canon. (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved All rights reserved.

Kirkus Review

Fantasy meets apocalypse meets allegory meets bildungsroman in an exuberant, bulging first novel by John le Carr's son. Set in a semi-recognizable world (Cuba is admitted into the United Kingdom), at some undated point in the future, and narrated by a nameless hero with no apparent family but a gift for martial arts and a best friend named Gonzo Lubitsch, Harkaway's debut blends aspects of existing culture (Brazil, Catch-22, The Karate Kid) into the story. In love with names, riffs, stories and language, this is a good-natured, underedited, serio-comic take on war, ecology, capitalism and human nature, loosely gathered around the development of its central character, who is semi-adopted by the Lubitsches, wins a place at university, is captured and threatened for associating with subversives, struggles to find work and eventually joins a special-forces unit, which is how he comes to be fighting in Addeh Katir (a lush, faraway place nonetheless reminiscent of Iraq) when the Go Away Bombs start to fall, decimating the population. They are quickly followed by something worse, something that unleashes monsters from the human imagination. A kind of order is restored via the Jorgmund Pipe, which purifies the air and allows communities to develop and for which our hero and his friends work as a troubleshooting crew. But then Gonzo invades the narrator's marriage and shoots him, leading to a terrible revelation and a new world order. Excessive and garrulous, this is nevertheless something of a tour de force, energized by set pieces, many of them involving fights, and sustained by inexhaustible imagination. Harkaway displays talent with his big, butch, bravura first book, if not yet the ability to distinguish the wood from the trees. Copyright ©Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Booklist Review

*Starred Review* In a postapocalyptic world made so by a weapon whose evil-genius creator didn't quite think through the complications of actually using it a man makes a journey of self-discovery that is unlike anything we've seen before. Though the earth and its atmosphere have been savaged beyond imagining, a pipe girdles the globe, dispensing chemical salvation and creating a narrow Livable Zone. In the book's breakneck, bravura beginning, the pipe is on fire, and our hero and his friends, a roughneck gang of former soldiers, are the only ones who can put it out. A flashback, half the book long, introduces the hero's lifelong friendship with the wildly charismatic Gonzo Lubitsch, their education and intellectual development, and their roles in the Go Away War. They get the fire out, but their relationship is severed, providing the impetus for the book's surprising second half. This first novel is writing of the first order, with forehead-smacking takes on international relations ( Now that this place exists as a war zone, everyone feels it would be rude not to use it ), the military mind-set (with its saving grace of hierarchy ), and government by corporation (the massive cooperative effort that saves the ruined world is quickly co-opted by the cost-benefit crowd). But at the heart of The Gone-Away World is a meditation on the very nature of what makes us human. Funny, digressive, dark, and possibly optimistic, Harkaway's debut displays ingredients of Catch-22, Dr. Strangelove, and The Road Warrior with maybe a pinch of Pynchon and a sprinkling of Vonnegut. But for all that, it's its own heady brew.--Graff, Keir Copyright 2008 Booklist

Library Journal Review

There's a fire in the Jorgmund Pipe, and Gonzo Lubitsch and his pals at the Haulage & HazMat Emergency Civil Freebooting Company had better fix it, or the Gone-Away World is done for. John le Carre's son makes a debut. With a 100,000-copy first printing; national tour. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.