"A brilliant comedic commentary on colonialism, capitalism, religious war and violence . . . fueled by Beauman's gorgeous descriptions and hysterically funny bits."--Helen Stapinski, The New York Times Book Review

A wild, astonishing literary thriller by arguably England's most accomplished young writer, about Manhattan and Hollywood in the 1930s, Mayan gods, and a CIA operation gone terribly wrong--the Man Booker short-listed Ned Beauman's magnum opus thus far.


In 1938, two rival expeditions descend on an ancient temple recently discovered in the jungles of Honduras, one intending to shoot a screwball comedy on location there, the other to disassemble the temple and ship it back to New York. A seemingly endless stalemate ensues, and twenty years later a rogue CIA agent sets out to exploit it for his own ends, unaware that the temple is a locus of conspiracies far grander than anyone could ever have guessed. Shot through with insanity, intrigue, ingenuity, and adventure, showcasing Beauman's anarchic humor, spectacular imagination, and riveting prose, Madness Is Better Than Defeat teases, absorbs, entertains, and dazzles in equal measure.
 “A brilliant comedic commentary on colonialism, capitalism, religious war and violence . . . fueled by Beauman’s gorgeous descriptions and hysterically funny bits.”—Helen Stapinski, The New York Times Book Review

"Reminiscent of the Coen Brothers at their best, Madness Is Better Than Defeat is a strange, brilliant and satisfying trip to a more entertaining version of history."--Jaclyn Fulwood, Shelf Awareness
 
"Mystery, murder, and mayhem abound in this highly imaginative, devilishly plotted adventure from Granta Best of Young British Writers Beauman."--Barbara Love, Library Journal

"[A] rowdy, thoroughly satisfying literary adventure. . . . Exquisitely comic and absurd, Beauman's imaginative novel brims with the snappy dialogue, vivid scenery, and converging story lines of an old Hollywood classic."--Publishers Weekly (starred review)
 
"Like an agent of the former British Empire, this book goes all over the world, gets in adventures, and maintains a tone of restraint even in tight spots--with comedic results. Take Graham Greene, add salaciousness and surreality, and you've got the undefeated madness that only Ned Beauman can deliver. A work of globe-trotting imagination, sex, violence and wit, told in an elegant style--an accomplishment that writers will study and readers will delight in."--Atticus Lish, author of Preparation for the Next Life
 
"Ned Beauman writes sentences so good I want to collect them, except that after a few pages I'm basically just transcribing the book. His newest novel is elegant, witty, precise and often hilarious. I didn't read it so much as savor it, word by word."--Charles Yu, author of How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe