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Head of Zeus
The Beast
The Beast by Alexander Starritt

Jeremy Underwood is a long-suffering subeditor on The Daily Beast, Britain's mightiest tabloid. Returning from holiday, he notices two burqa-clad figures lurking outside the paper's Kensington offices. Two male terrorism suspects have escaped from a mosque disguised as women; recently suspicion and fear have made everyone alert. Jeremy's casual observation sets off a chain of events that spins out of control, as the great Beast feels that it is the next target of terrorism.

Alexander Starritt's darkly funny novel is a vivid anatomy of that most uncontrollable of large creatures, the British tabloid newspaper. The ferocious professionalism and manic rivalries of a newsroom have rarely been so well described. And at the heart of the newsroom is the brooding, dictatorial figure of its editor, Charles Brython, the booming voice of Middle England. His world is under threat, and he will do whatever it takes to defend it. This is a story in which comedy teeters on the edge of horror.

Head of Zeus, an Apollo book * Fiction
07 Sep 2017 * 368pp * £7.99 * 9781784979935
'A brilliant satire ... Starritt's novel skewers its targets with a thrilling accuracy. It needs urgently to be read'
Ian Jack
'Eye-wateringly funny and uncannily well observed'
Richard Addiss, Former Editor of the Daily Express and FT Weekend
'Hugely enjoyable ... Sharp, relentless and very funny'
Ned Beauman
'A deft descendant of Evelyn Waugh, Jonathan Coe and Ben Hecht's The Front Page ... News hounds will recognise the world of the modern Beast, in all its blood, sweat and sporadic absurdity. Civilians will relish a caper with a serious undertow'
Anne McElvoy, The Economist and BBC Radio 4 presenter
'What Starritt gets vividly right, in a way I think no other fiction has managed, is the editing process that is so central to the success of any popular paper'
'A pacy satire, and as an insider's account of the mechanics of putting together a daily paper it has great "how stuff works" appeal'
Sunday Telegraph
'Humorous and witty, satirising the tabloid press' nimble crafting of salacious headlines and vilification of the working class. However, it has much darker tones when Starritt explores how the press manipulates an innocent situation into something much more sinister ... A wonderful novel and fans of dark, satirical fiction will love it'
Book and a Brew
'A savage satire on the tabloid newspaper. It's a worthy successor to Evelyn Waugh and J. B. Priestley's efforts and it's as timely as they were'
The Mike Robbins Blog
'An irresistible subject for a novel ... Journalists will love it [and] others too'
'Reading this frenetic, comedic novel this old hack finds instant recognition in the tension, cynicism and quick-wittedness of a subs' desk ... Starritt's novel thus reeks of authenticity right down to the subs with their 8.5pt, indented pars and sweaty fear and loathing. It has been described as a satire but I hesitate to use that term because The Beast never strays far from reality ... Accurate, witty stuff ... A brisk but cleverly constructed narrative... [Starritt] is a writer and one worth keeping an eye on'
The National
'[A] raucous satire on tabloid journalism ... One of the most deft portrayals of subbing ever to make print, and it is at its most exhilarating when it lives in the moment, when, "like the flying parts of a mechanical loom", the messy business of life is transformed into regulation tabloid tropes: everyone in the paper has to become a Tragic Schoolgirl, Dirty Doctor, or Criminal Immigrant'
'A page-turner of a novel which will have journalists nodding in recognition, and non-journalists cringing in horror at the expert manipulation of news stories, and the people who read them'
On Yorkshire
'In his first novel, [Starritt] proves that he is not only a very funny writer, but possesses the ruthless unsentimentality of the finest satirists'
The Sunday Times
'An immensely satisfying satire'
Sunday Times
Alexander Starritt
Alexander Starritt
Alexander Starritt has worked or written for a wide variety of publications, including the Daily Mail, the Mail on Sunday, the Guardian, the Huffington Post and Newsweek. He grew up in the northeast of Scotland and also translates from the German.
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