THE GREAT LEAP FORWARD is a post-modern comic fantasy that defies categorization.  Imagine that Kafka, Borges and Wittgenstein, after binging on Fu Manchu novels and the Illuminatus trilogy, all sat down to write a spy thriller, with a little help from Lewis Carroll. Set the novel in China in 1978—an isolated empire of conspiracy, deception and delusion—and tune in to Radio Beijing for the astonishing announcement: China will unilaterally disarm. Is this a Great Leap Forward for mankind—or a plot to take over the world?  Into this surreal landscape, steps Number Five, in the persona of  Luc 'le Duc' Duloup, a master spy of undisclosed nationality.  What he finds in China is so shocking, so strange, so far beyond the usual categories of fact or fiction, that he returns a changed man, and the story of his mission must be passed off as fantasy. Die-hard fans of thrillers beware: Don't buy this book unless you're prepared to suspend your expectations in favor of a story that's funny, literary, and genre-bending!  

The Story Behind This Book
Armand Burke was born in the 1950s in a place whose name he does not care to remember. In his early twenties he found himself living in New York City and increasingly baffled by an obsession with China. At that time the Middle Kingdom was off-limits to Western travelers and in the midst of a political upheaval. After countless hours in the Far Eastern Collection of the New York Public Library, Burke realized that he would never find the truth about China in any of the usual places, least of all in China itself. Like Joseph Conrad describing a continent he had never visited, or Pierre Menard recreating Don Quixote word by word, he relocated his search, beyond outer appearances, to the deepest recesses of his own imagination. Sensing correctly that his discoveries in that chaotic region would be suppressed by the military/industrial/publishing complex, he wrote on the run--in an apartment in the Bronx, a basement in Colorado, a farmhouse in Vermont--while working as a bank messenger, an investigator and a storekeeper and reading the Illuminati trilogy. The result was The Great Leap Forward, which has been called "unequaled," "unparalleled" and "extraordinary," among other things. Today, except after a night of heavy drinking, he denies having written it. He lives on an island off the coast of Maine with two Siamese cats, three dogs, four pot-bellied pigs, and a Komodo dragon.

Praise and Reviews

5.0 out of 5 stars Hilarious Spy Spoof January 8, 2013

By Kelly Jameson (also writes as Ann Kelly)

Format:Kindle Edition|Amazon Verified Purchase


The Great Leap Forward is not a traditional spy thriller; it's a spoof of spy novels, and it's very funny.

The author has created an iconic character in Luc "Le Duc" Duloup, who sets off for China in 1978 to investigate whether there's going to be a Great Leap Forward for mankind or a plot is afoot to take over the world. He moves around in a time of shadows, secret societies, and Pepsi addiction.

The story is Kafkaesque, with a volley of political satire and an intriguing investigation of personal identity. Fans of books with wry humor dusting almost every page, pulp noirish Fu Manchu novels, and stories with lots of quirky characters will like this book. Undeniably entertaining and addicting. I highly recommend it.
--Kelly Jameson



Armand Burke
Armand Burke was born in the 1950s in a place whose name he does not care to remember. In his early twenties he found himself living in New York City and increasingly baffled by  More...