Book Review: The Kangaroo Chronicles

The Kangaroo Chronicles
(Marc-Uwe Kling, Ullstein, 2009)

Marc-Uwe Kling is an author, satirist and poet. He lives in Berlin and like many artists struggles to find motivation to create his art. He is a self described phlegmatic anarchist. One afternoon while avoiding work, he hears a knock on the door of his apartment. He opens the door and is taken a back to find a talking kangaroo has just moved into the apartment across from him. The kangaroo is looking to borrow a few eggs in order to bake a cake. A few minutes later the kangaroo knocks again hoping to borrow milk, butter and flour. Another few minutes pass and Marc-Uwe finds the Kangaroo at his door yet again looking to borrow a pan, and the hob, as he has neither. At this point Marc-Uwe invites the Kangaroo in, and so the misadventures of this unlikely duo begin.

I had been recommended the Kangaroo Chronicles by a number of people in the past 12 months. I was a bit skeptical at first, but who wouldn’t be when someone excitedly tells you about a singer songwriter that lives with a Kangaroo. I was pleasantly surprised however as it is not only incredibly funny but also very easy to read. In its original format the book is a spoken word piece that is broken up into bite sized chunks.

The book serves as an elegant, if at times silly, social commentary told through the perspective of the Marc-Uwe as he writes a detailed Chronicle of his friendship with the kangaroo, who turns out to be a pragmatic communist. The conversations and adventures range from poignant to absurd but always end with a jab at society or social conventions that are challenged by the kangaroo. It makes not only for an easy and entertaining read but gave rise to a few of those “huh…” moments where you ask yourself, why is it that we do things this way.

The Kangaroo Chronicles might very well be a step away from your normal reading diet, but thats exactly what social commentary and critique is meant to be. If you are willing to accept that this critique comes from the occasionally absurd mind of a communist kangaroo, then you are in for a comedic adventure through modern society. I am looking forward to reading the sequel… the Kangaroo Manifesto.

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