Shishkin is fascinated by the concept of the narratives we create for ourselves, whether entirely imagined, or based on what we think is memory and fact. Yet he doesn’t ram that idea down readers’ throats; he merely offers it here, in many variations, but also allows the stories themselves to be spun out. It makes for an unusual novel — unusual in the sense that it is unlike what one has encountered before, and unlike what one has come to expect. It expands, in a small but significant way, our understanding of what the novel can be and do — quite a remarkable achievement.
A big, odd novel, well worth experiencing.
Review of the English translation of Mikhail Shishkin’s Maidenhair, which is out from Open Letter right about now. [via the complete review]