The final days of Joseph Stalin’s reign are treacherous if you cannot lie to keep the right people happy or if you take for granted the veracity of everything you hear. Yuri Zipit, the twelve-year-old protagonist and narrator of Christopher Wilson’s humorous novel The Zoo, meets both these conditions. At the age of six, an accident involving a milk truck damaged his frontal lobe and deprived him of tact and inhibition. Thus Yuri says and does anything that springs to mind. Only with great effort can he heed his father’s advice, reiterated in the pun in his surname, and ‘stop gibbering like a demented gibbon’.
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'He was not a revolutionary at all of course. He was only marginally a socialist. His tradition was rooted in the Liberal aristocracy, and his politics were entirely bounded by Parliament.'
From the archive, Paul Foot on Tony Benn's diaries.
We're glad you've stopped now.