2011: And The Winner Is...

on Saturday, December 31, 2011
Well this one is a no brainer!

Forget your Murakamis and Ecos. I knew from the moment I started Jesse Ball's latest novel The Curfew that I had happened upon something very, very special. Ball had already been on my radar for a few years, being one of the few writers yet to disappoint. Samedi The Deafness was brilliant, whacked-out noir. The Way Through Doors was a gloriously surreal riff on identity and memory. Then there is his poetry and short prose (much of it collected in the wonderful compendium The Village on Horseback). But it is this, his third novel, that really cements his place in my mind as one of the great writers of our times. For those not yet to treat themselves to his work, Jesse Ball is Calvino, Kafka, Orwell, Stoppard and Chandler, rolled into one. Yes, he is that good. Don't be fooled, however, by all the name-checking. There is nothing even slightly derivative about his writing. Indeed, Jesse Ball has the most original voice in contemporary literature.

The Curfew is Ball's foray into the world of totalitarian dystopia; a world in which music has been banned, and the government causes its less favoured citizens to disappear. There is so much to love about this book - the absurdist humour of William's vocation; the beautiful tenderness of his and Molly's relationship; William's heartbreaking longing for his disappeared wife Louisa; the brilliant parallel world of the puppet show; Ball's willingness to eschew the happy ending for something far more profound and disturbing . Really, I could go on forever. Suffice to say that The Curfew is a masterstroke from the most exciting young writer at work today. One day it will be considered a classic but, for now, it'll have to sit patiently content in the knowledge that for me, and quite a few other people I know, it is the book of the year.

Check out my full review of Jesse Ball's The Curfew here.


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