|Man To Mann|
Man To Mann attempts to do something which is not at first sight easy – to treat the subject of racial disharmony in a serene way. This is not because there is no unpleasantness in it. Indeed Mann, the protagonist, is obsessed by the Holocaust, and subconsciously is haunted by it, in his dreams. And yet his tolerant, measured approach to the emotions this subject raises, tempered by a wry sense of humour, defuses the passions he encounters, and enables him to try, at least, to face truths he has tried to ignore – his cowardice about his origins, his own racial prejudice, and that of Alex, his partner, who is otherwise the epitome of a sensible, tolerant, and humane woman.
The novel exposes uncomfortable facts, whether we are oppressors or victims – the ubiquity of racial hostility, its place within us all, the cruelty that lurks under our veneer of civilisation, and our unwillingness to permit any virtues to our enemies. Nothing is black and white. None of us can afford to throw too many stones. And yet Mann is no milksop. He condemns, he attacks, he is not to be silenced, he stands up for what he thinks is right. Yet even as a victim he able to see both sides and to forgive, although he has to recognise how little firm ground anyone can be sure of.A running but understated background to the novel has particular resonance for us in the UK – Britishness: the native versus the immigrant. How we see ourselves, yet how we are. And there is one other undercurrent – media manipulation