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Janet MaslinThe Tyrant's Novel is more amorous and unpredictable than its grim setting would suggest. Mr. Keneally sees horror in this nation and its iron rule, but he sees all manner of absurdity, too. His book is mutable enough to include both a running joke about the dictator's fondness for Tommy Hilfiger cologne and a full grasp of the hardships inflicted on his people. Its most impressive aspect is Mr. Keneally's quicksilver way of switching moods, shifting from light to dark and back again, as he captures the utter precariousness of life subject to a tyrant's whims.
— The New York Times