Here is the second of Burgess’s novels that used the pseudonym Joseph Kell. One Hand Clapping was a minor success in Eastern Europe, where ‘it was regarded as a condemnation of moneymaking, a debased culture, the whole capitalist Western life, than to endure which it would be better to be dead. […] Needless to say, whatever money it has earned there remains sequestered.’ (Anthony Burgess, You’ve Had Your Time, 1990)
‘In this story the young married couple are an ordinary decent young married couple, like what you and I are, only better-looking, perhaps. It’s all about the husband having a sort of brain good at winning quizzes, so he wins The Big Money on a TV quiz and then puts the money on horses and he becomes a rich man. And so then they have the best of everything, like a mink for her and staying at posh hotels and travelling to America and the West Indies and suchlike places, but there’s always been something niggling in him all the time about the world being a rotten place and not even money can buy anything to make the world a less rotten place and so he suggests they do themselves in.
That’s her story anyway. There is also her sister and brother-in-law in the book, too, and there is this young poet called Redvers Glass that is very attractive. It’s all about what it is like living today in England, with the TV and the Supermarket and the weather never too good, and how to get rich and yet not change anything really at all.’
(Joseph Kell, from One Hand Clapping, 1961)