EU politics and porkies

Stephen Wall on an enjoyable satire of Brussels bureaucracy

The World Today Published 4 April 2019 Updated 6 November 2020 3 minute READ

Stephen Wall

Tony Blair's Advisor on Europe

The Capital
Robert Menasse, MacLehose Press, £15.00

Brussels has never been as rich a source of good jokes as it is of good eating. In the days before Eurostar, it was said that you could tell when the British delegation had arrived because, even after the aircraft’s engines had been turned off, you could still hear the whining … You see what I mean.

The few Brits in Robert Menasse’s novel of Brussels EU life do more wining and dining than whingeing as they play out their remaining days on the European stage. Menasse’s European Commission is full of EU versions of Sir Humphrey and Bernard: the guileful and the gullible. The one senior Brit, George Morland (implausibly enough, in charge of agriculture) is neither. He most resembles the animal at the heart of the story. For pigs, literal and Orwellian, loom large.

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