Publication year: 2004
Publication year of the Finnish translation: 2012
Format: print
Finnish translator: Mika Kivimäki
Page count: 398
Finnish Publisher: Karisto

Going Postal focuses on the Ankh-Morpork Post Office. Underneath the witty dialog, snappy characters, and humorous situations, it also deals with the business practices of big businesses who don’t give a crap about anything but money. The main character is a con man who loves to manipulate and con other people but he thinks that they deserve it, so there’s also the theme of conning and the power of words. Moist thinks that the adage “you can’t con an honest man” is true because most people are more than willing to take advantage of other people, and therefore aren’t honest.

Moist von Lipwig, alias Albert Spangler, is waiting for his death. He’s been convicted of fraud and various other crimes to be hanged. And he was.

Except not quite. Ankh-Morpork’s Patrician Vetinari has a job for him and so Moist can choose between becoming the new Postmaster General or dying for real. Most chooses to live and promptly rides out of the city. Unfortunately for Moist, he now has a parole officer, a golem called Mr. Pump. The golem carries Moist, and his hapless horse, back to the city. So begins Moist von Lipwig’s new, if somewhat reluctant, career in leading the run down Post Office. The office still has two loyal employees, Junior Postman Tolliver Grout, who doesn’t trust modern medicine and uses instead folk remedies which he makes himself, and Postman Trainee Stanley who is obsessed about collecting pins. Grout is actually very near, if not over, the age of retirement.

The Post Office hasn’t been able to actually deliver mail in twenty years and the mail has just accumulated to such an extent that it’s dangerous to try to clear it. It’s also full of pigeons and their crap. Messages are being delivered with clacks these days, run by the Grand Trunk Company, so Moist has his work cut out for him.

Moist is a con man and a show man, and once it has been made clear that he can’t just run away, he puts all of his considerable ingenuity into getting the Post Office up and running again. He won’t shrink from any ploy, no matter how underhanded.

He’s surrounded by a group of highly peculiar characters who make for very entertaining reading. Stanley’s obsession with pins leads Moist to go to a pin selling shop, which is one of my favorite scenes. Some of the former stagecoach men have taken over that side of the business (“Horses have to eat, you know!”) and aren’t too happy to see Moist. Then there are the golems, hardworking and honest to a fault. The Patrician is also very interested what Moist does and as are the local newspapers.

The unscrupulous Reacher Guilt is the head of the Grand Trunk Company and he doesn’t want the Post Office to succeed.

A highly enjoyable Discworld read.