Penitent Perfection – The Apologist by Jay Rayner

theapologist

Review by Justine Solomons

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The Apologist is great. I’m a big fan of Jay Rayner’s writing. I tend to buy the paper at the weekend, skim the headlines and look at pictures, but Jay’s one of the few journalists I always read. Not only is he an excellent journalist, but he’s also penned some great books. Check out his novel, Day of Atonement and his recent non-fiction book, A Greedy Man in a Hungry World.  His books are not only well written, but very funny. The books are not just funny for the sake of being funny, but because he sweats it out of every pore: he just can’t help it.

Like Jay, Marc Bassett, the central protagonist of The Apologist, is a food critic. When one chef kill’s himself after a particular damning review, Marc starts to feel remorse and realizes that the only thing he can possibly do is apologise to the chef’s wife. So good does he feel after the apology, that he sets about apologizing to all those that he’s wronged in life. The government gets wind of his sorrowful activities when a video of his apology to an ex-girlfriend goes viral and then they ask him to help them. Can he apologise for all of the wrongs every government has ever committed? Will that apologising help governments and wronged people heal long-held rifts? Can he transfer those skills into the corporate sector?

Originally written in 2004 long before YouTube is what it is today, and the spate of atrocities governments have been accepting culpability for, Jay’s book is not only very comical, but a biting satire of 21st century society. Re-released by the literary agency, Curtis Brown’s first imprint Studio 28, this book is not only prescient in its understanding of social media and what governments and corporation politics will become, it also signals a new age in publishing, one where agents can now act as publishers. Hurray for Curtis Brown, for Jay and The Apologist. I’m not sorry I bought this book, nor will you be! A truly excellent read.

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