On one side of the Atlantic, he's an elegant writer of spy thrillers. On the other side, he's a serious practioner of literary fiction. John le Carre on his new novel
, The Mission Song:
"...the novel isn't really set in Congo at all--or so I had almost persuaded myself by the time I began my journey. It's a romantic satire, for heaven's sake, written with both feet firmly off the ground. It's about Tony Blair's England, and good old-fashioned colonial exploitation, and political hypocrisy and shameless public lies, and other scores I had to settle. It's about the quest for identity in our multiethnic society, and New Labour's assault on our civil liberties, and a bunch of other similarly lofty themes. Congo is just backcloth, an abstraction, a symbol of perpetual colonial exploitation, slaughter, famine and disorder. To meet it face to face would only violate the delicate illusion!--or so I had tried to believe."