Throw this lazy book down the well


The Jewish Chronicle - - ARTS&BOOKS - By Bo­rat Sagdiyev Box­tree (Pan Macmil­lan) £14.99 RE­VIEWED BY PETER MOSS

WITHIN SACHA BARON Co­hen/Bo­rat’s ( is it his?) latest of­fer­ing — a book, yet! — this sin­gu­lar char­ac­ter’s love of all things Jewish is warmly recorded in a finely de­tailed map of Kaza­khstan’s “Jew Town” and his ac­count of the “Run­ning of the Jew” fes­ti­val, which is even wit­tier on the page than on the screen. And his as­ser­tion that Pol Pot was Jewish merely con­firms what I al­ways sus­pected.

The front cover of th­ese “touris­tic guid­ings” looks at first glance like the 1962 Beano Bumper Fun An­nual. But look closer: a pic­ture of Bo­rat in un­der­pants; an­other pic­ture of Bo­rat with a lead weight at­tached to his (ad­mit­tedly un­der­panted) pe­nis; a green-faced ogre with red horns and a tal­lit; and — very Beano-like, this — a warn­ing: Parental Ad­vi­sory — Con­tains Of­fen­sive Ma­te­rial.

Here comes the bad news: this is the best page in the book, bet­ter even than the back-page photo of Bo­rat and a ran­dom Cha­sidic gen­tle­man and the words: Touris­tic Guid­ings to Mi­nor Na­tion of U.S. and A. This, it seems, is the book’s other ti­tle, and the re­ally funny bit is — and not even Monty Python achieved this un­til their sec­ond book — the whole sec­ond half of the book, the Amer­i­can side, is up­side down. The satire is so sub­tle I’m not even sure the mi­nor­na­tion folk will get it.

The book is, roughly, on a scale of one-to-10, four parts nar­ra­tive, six parts pic­tures. Much of the nar­ra­tive is built around the words “pussy”, “shave” and “pu­bis”, and most of the pic­tures are, how shall I say, con­sis­tent with the ver­biage. It is a pre-pre-pubescent Viz. Pride of place goes to Bo­rat/Baron Co­hen’s pe­nis (a stunt pe­nis, surely) which, er, pops up no less than half-a-dozen times be­tween the sheets of this epic, some­times en­tombed in a thong, but by page 115 I was past car­ing.

I’m not not a fan; it’s just that Baron Co­hen’s cre­ation (be­low) is a one-trick pony that should long ago have sad­dled up and rid­den out of town with its one trick deadand-buried in the lo­cal knacker’s yard.

The most of­fen­sive thing about the Touris­tic Guid­ings is the book-as-mar­ket­ing-ploy fac­tor. It is a spin-off too far, the book of the film of the TV se­ries of a one-di­men­sional char­ac­ter that was funny only, like Ali G, when the joke was on us (sorry, Bo­rat, it doesn’t work when the whole world knows you’re not for real) in his first in­car­na­tion as a 45-sec­ond skit in an oth­er­wise ris­i­ble faux-top­i­cal sketch show.

The book is a lazy and un­nec­es­sary com­pen­dium of an of­ten very funny film. It adds noth­ing to the film; in fact, it de­tracts greatly. But it will un­doubt­edly find its mar­ket, and it is the pub­lisher’s good for­tune that most of that mar­ket can­not yet read and will not, there­fore, be dis­suaded by my own mod­est in­dif­fer­ence. One for the


Peter Moss is a travel writer, broad­caster and stand-up co­me­dian

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