Joe Bennett

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Joe Bennett was born in England and since leaving Cambridge University has taught English in a variety of safe countries, including Canada and New Zealand, eventually settling in Lyttelton, near Christchurch, New Zealand. Joe's newspaper columns are syndicated throughout New Zealand and the cream of them published in two collections of by Hazard Press in New Zealand and by Simon & Schuster throughout the rest of the English-speaking world.

Now a freelance writer, Bennett appears with regular irregularity on television and National Radio in New Zealand, where he has twice been voted Columnist of the Year. He is the author of four books, described by Bill Bryson as "brilliant" and "deadly accurate and absurdly funny". Joe's writing is described as "so sharp you could stick pigs with it. If you don't like laughing, thinking or seeing the world afresh, don't buy it."

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When Joe Bennett was at school he hadn’t heard of Dubai. If you’d asked him where it was he would have guessed Africa. Or perhaps India, or Asia, or even Europe. And he wouldn’t have been far wrong, because Dubai isn’t far from anywhere. Once nothing more than a hot little port on the Arabian Gulf, Dubai transformed seemingly overnight into a hub of global trade and finance. And it made this transformation peaceably; bringing Muslim and Christian worlds together without succumbing to the wars and terrorism that blight the region. Dubai seemed like a model for the way ahead. But when the economic crisis put the wind up global capitalism, Dubai came to be seen as the emblem of a rotten world. Dubai was brash. Dubai was cruel. Dubai was exploitative. Dubai was a speculative bubble. Dubai, in short, was plain bloody horrible. Leaving the comfort of his armchair, Joe Bennett embarks on a quest to discover just what (and where) Dubai really is. Can it go on? Has it sold itself to the corporate dollar? Is it anything more than a mall in the desert? Will the sands return? Absurdly funny, wise and witty.


Praise for HELLO DUBAI:

"Book of the week" Glasgow Herald

"A thoughtful and wry book" Big Issue


“Bennett’s sardonic style is reminiscent of fellow travel writer Paul Theroux” Financial Times

“With this book, English-born Bennett, who now lives in New Zealand, announces himself as one of the most important and original travel writers since Bill Bryson wrote The Lost Continent more than 20 years ago. But Bennett is no Bryson wannabe. He's an astute and wry observer, a wonderfully adept and readable writer who mixes research with interesting and valid personal anecdotes.” Sydney Morning Herald

“Bennett does a good job of standing in for the reader, gazing in slightly befuddled amazement at a surreal, almost alien vision of opulence.” Herald Scotland




Publication DetailsNotes


When Joe Bennett bought a five-pack of 'Made in China' underpants in his local New Zealand hypermarket for $8.59, he wondered who on earth could be making any money, let alone profit, from the exchange. How many processes and middlemen are involved? Where and how are the pants made? And who decides on the absorbent qualities of the gusset?

Bennett tells you all you need to know (in fact, probably more) about this mystery of global commerce. Leaving his supermarket trolley behind, Joe embarks on an odyssey to the new factory of the world, China, to trace his pants back to their source. Along the way he discovers the extraordinarily balanced and intricate web of contacts and exchanges that makes global trade possible - and rapidly elevating China to the status of world economic superpower. He also grapples with chopsticks, challenges his own prejudices and marvels at the contrasts in one of the world's oldest, but fastest changing, societies. Funny, wise and insightful.



In between penning his hugely acclaimed and bestselling travelogues, Joe Bennett is also one of the foremost newspaper columnists in his adopted New Zealand. In punchy, pithy, perfectly formed 800-word packages, Joe skewers all manner of modern foibles, many of them his own. Whether applying his forensic common sense to the more idiotic twenty-first-century concerns or concocting a hilarious love-letter to his fridge, his pieces are acutely observed, very funny and always right on the money. Bringing together the best of his journalism from the last five years, this new collection shows there's much more to Joe Bennett than travel writing and establishes him as the thinking man's Jeremy Clarkson.



Joe Bennett left England sixteen years ago, and now he's coming back to see where it went in the meantime, and to see if there remains any trace of the country H. V. Morton found during the writing of his classic IN SEARCH OF ENGLAND. Where better to start than the arrivals hall of Heathrow's terminal 3? Criss-crossing the country by varying means of transport and with varying degrees of enthusiasm, Joe Bennett delivers a dazzlingly funny and poignant portrait of his homeland. Part love-letter, part eulogy, and part diatribe, this book establishes Bennett as one of our most engaging travel writers.



After ten years in New Zealand, Joe Bennett asked himself what on earth he was doing there. Other than his dogs, what was it about these two small islands on the edge of the world that had kept him - an otherwise restless traveller - for really much longer than they seemed to deserve? Bennett thought he'd better pack his bag and find out. Hitching around both the intriguingly named North and South Islands, with an eye for oddity and a taste for conversation, Bennett began to remind himself of the reasons New Zealand is quietly seducing the rest of the world.



Joe Bennett, the quintessential Englishman abroad, regales us once again with his dry and hilarious observations on the absurdities of everyday life. If you relish laughing out loud at the expense of the pretentious and the pompous, and like your wit lacerated with insight and compassion, then Joe Bennett's second collection of sparkling vignettes won't disappoint. From tortoise smuggling and culinary fads to bad poetry and the joys of poultry, Joe's eclectic range of topics and targets, penned with his trademark shrewd humour, provide a refreshingly new look at the absurdities of our daily lives.



Why is it that a man with a vacuum cleaner just has to discover exactly what it is capable of sucking up? And have you ever wondered why cars parked outside massage parlours contain dogs? Why Monopoly is the root of all evil? Why every man should own a circular saw? Or wondered what it's like to sleep on a waterbed when drunk? Joe Bennett is an Englishman abroad. With prose as clear as sunlight he illuminates normal life. The result is abnormally funny. Enjoy the company of this sparkling wit, whose hilarious and deadly accurate vignettes highlight the absurdities of life.