Devil of a State

Speculative fiction by Anthony Burgess


Devil of a State is a 1961 novel by Anthony Burgess based on his experience living and working in Bandar Seri Begawan in the Southeast Asian sultanate of Brunei, on the island of Borneo, in 1958-59.
It is the fourth of what have been classed as Burgess's "exotic novels", the others being Time for a Tiger, The Enemy in the Blanket and Beds in the East.
For libel reasons the action had to be transposed to an imaginary East African caliphate called "Dunia" and a UN representative substituted for the British Adviser. In his autobiography Little Wilson and Big God, Being the First Part of the Confessions of Anthony Burgess Burgess writes:
This novel was, is, about Brunei, which was renamed Naraka, Malayo-Arabic for hell. Little invention was needed to contrive a large cast of unbelievable characters and a number of interwoven plots.Though completed in 1958, the work was not published until 1961, for what it was worth it was made a choice of the book society. Heinemann, my publisher, was doubtfull about publishing it: it might be libelous. I had to change the setting from Borneo to an East African one. Heinemann was right to be timorous.

First Published


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