Esquire (Middle East edition) has published its list of the top 20 funniest books less than a week after the Guardian issued its choices for the top 14. See earlier post. Vile Bodies is on both lists, joining Three Men in a Boat as the only book to achieve that distinction. Here’s how Esquire describes its selection:
It is a gift to the satirist to live in turbulent times but there still remains the task of encapsulating them. In Vile Bodies, an ostensibly superficial comic novel, Evelyn Waugh brilliantly, hilariously, unflinchingly but always humanely pinions a society which is in thrall to gossip and decadence, traumatized by war and financial catastrophe, yet unable to stop itself. This is a book as much for our age as it was for when Waugh wrote it in 1930.
Other books on Esquire’s list which were conspicuously absent from the Guardian’s are Lucky Jim by Kingsley Amis, The Diary of a Nobody by George and Weedon Grossmith (one of Waugh’s favorites) and Catch-22 by Joseph Heller (which Waugh thought unfunny). On the other hand, oddly missing from Esquire’s list is anything by P G Wodehouse.