The 2020 Dictionary

Like most dictionaries, this book by Dominic Knight, bestselling author of Strayapedia, and one of the founders of The Chaser, is not designed to 'begin at the beginning and go on to the end, and then stop' as Lewis Carroll advised.

Basically The 2020 Dictionary is a compilation of horrors - the words and phrases attached to a year that was/is 2020. It would be unbearably depressing without the comic relief of Dom Knight's laugh-out-loud ironic take on each one.

This is the sort of book that makes you go: 'Sssh, everyone, you must hear this...'.

If there was an award for the most appropriate Christmas present at the end of the world's worst twelve months, then this has to be it. We've all (sort of) lived through most of it and added a slew of new words and phrases to our vocab, which Dominic Knight has taken the opportunity of painstakingly (and hilariously) explaining for us.

Bushfires, floods, a global pandemic, a recession, job losses, fines, lockdowns, and the US elections. What does Dominic Knight make of it all?

"This book is about a terrible, awful, dreadful year....," he writes in a disclaimer at the book's beginning. "Any humour is of the gallows variety."

Flick through the pages, getting a new angle on words you have become far too familiar with, such as lockdown, self-quarantine, koalas, sourdough, social distancing, iso, masks and testing -  and many you may not know, such as doom-scrolling, zumping, firenado, isobod and dumpster fire.

There are the big names too: the Trump family, of course, Jared Kushner, Dr Fauci, Dr Brendan Murphy, Daniel Andrews, along with other premiers, and Prince Andrew. Virtually nothing, and nobody gets away with anything.

In a year when people who have never been on a cruise ship quickly learned to elbow bump, and everyone now knows the location of Wuhan, in Knight's words, here at last is the "year the world went to sh*t".

Here's a final peek at how the dictionary wipes up the entry on Toilet Paper: 'Then as soon as it came back in stock anywhere, everyone stockpiled it even more fervently. This episode of mass irrationality made it remarkable that any government public health messaging got through at all this year.'

++++ 

The 2020 Dictionary, by Dominic Knight, published by Allen & Unwin, November, 2020, paperback, rrp A$29.99.

- reviewed by Sally Hammond

 

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