Umbrella, By Will Self
Boyd Tonkin is Senior Writer and a columnist at The Independent. An award-winning journalist, he was formerly Literary Editor at The Independent, and before that Social Policy Editor and then Books Editor at the New Statesman magazine. He has broadcast extensively for BBC arts and current affairs programmes and has judged the Booker Prize, the Whitbread biography award, the Commonwealth Writers Prize and the David Cohen Prize. In 2001, he re-founded the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize for literature in translation, and serves on its judging panel every year.
Friday 12 April 2013
From the First World War to the 1970s and beyond, Self's rich Modernist triptych carries his prowess in fiction to a new level.
The "sleeping sickness" of the 1920s, the fashions and fantasies of psychiatry as negotiated by Self's serial shrink Dr Zach Busner, and the headlong, inhuman momentum of a mechanised century: all propel a story of selfhood - and society - in crisis that finds its analogue in a fractured, triple-level narrative.
It can be demanding, yes - but lyrical, funny and bitterly beautiful as well.
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