Medvei, Cornelius 1977-
Medvei, Cornelius 1977-
Born 1977. Education: Attended Oxford University.
Writer, illustrator, and educator. Worked in China as a teacher.
(And illustrator) Mr. Thundermug (novel), HarperCollins (New York, NY), 2007.
Cornelius Medvei's debut novel, Mr. Thundermug, is a "fantastical yet poker-faced meditation on the mysterious junction where our animal and human selves merge," commented Michael Upchurch in the Seattle Times. The title character is a baboon who suddenly appears one day in a London suburb with his spouse and children. Mr. Thundermug is not just any primate, however. He can talk with considerable eloquence, which places him in a strange position among his human neighbors. It also isolates him from his wife and two children, who do not share his ability to speak. He and his family take up residence in a condemned, cockroach-infested house in a run-down neighborhood. Delighted at the presence of their scurrying new food source, they quickly clear the house of vermin, but still find themselves facing eviction as city officials try to enforce various regulations to deal with a situation they cannot understand. When Mr. Thundermug gets sick and goes for help, no one can decide if he should see a doctor or a veterinarian. The city council decides that he needs a license if he wants to keep monkeys at home, even though they are his children. The closest he can find is a dog license. When it is discovered that his children sleep in the bathtub, he is arrested for cruelty to animals. Eviction notices repeatedly appear on his door, but the otherwise talented Mr. Thundermug cannot read them. "Again and again, his attempts to blend into society are stymied by his human interlocutors' desire to define, distinguish, categorize, and confine," observed a Kirkus Reviews critic. When he finally sends his children to school, he befriends their teacher, Miss Young, who teaches him to read and write, but literacy only makes his problems worse.
In his novel, illustrated with his own lithographs, Medvei "offers a gently affecting and often funny allegory of the outsider," remarked a Publishers Weekly critic. Michael Roberts, writing in the Morning Star, called the novel "a charming and gentle parody of the British suburban attitudes once lampooned mercilessly by situation comedy." New Statesman reviewer Alexander Larman called the book "a promising first work from a distinctive talent."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Dayton Daily News, February 14, 2007, Vick Mickunas, "An Exotic Debut," review of Mr. Thundermug.
Kirkus Reviews, November 1, 2006, review of Mr. Thundermug, p. 1096.
Morning Star, August 13, 2006, Michael Roberts, "Talking Primate Upsets Status Quo," review of Mr. Thundermug.
New Statesman, August 28, 2006, Alexander Larman, "Monkey Business," review of Mr. Thundermug, p. 51.
New York Times Book Review, April 8, 2007, Lizzie Skurnick, review of Mr. Thundermug, p. 18.
Publishers Weekly, November 6, 2006, review of Mr. Thundermug, p. 33.
Seattle Times, March 30, 2007, Michael Upchurch, review of Mr. Thundermug.