Delighting in the aesthetic virtues of trompe l’oeil painting that the novel depicts, de Kerangal’s lyrical tour de force regales the reader with a breathtaking coming-of-age story rendered in crystalline prose.
"One of contemporary fiction's most gifted sentence builders" Beejay Silcox, Guardian
Behind the ornate doors of 30, rue du Metal in Brussels, twenty students begin their apprenticeship in the art of decorative painting - that art of tricksters and counterfeiters, where each knot in a plank of wood hides a secret and every vein in a slab of marble tells a story.
Among these students are Kate, Jonas and Paula Karst. Together, during a relentless year of study, they will learn the techniques of reproducing materials in paint, and the intensity of their experience - the long hours in the studio, the late nights, the conversations, arguments, parties, romances - will cement a friendship that lasts long after their formal studies end.
For Paula, her initiation into the art of trompe l'oeil will take her back through time, from her own childhood memories, to the ancient formations of the materials whose depiction she strives to master. And from the institute in Brussels where her studies begin, to her work on the film sets of Cinecitta, and finally the prehistoric caves of Lascaux, her experiences will transcend art, gradually revealing something of her own inner world, and the secret, unreachable desires of her heart.
A coming-of-age novel like no other: an atmospheric and highly aesthetic portrayal of love, art and craftsmanship from the acclaimed author of Birth of a Bridge and Mend the Living.
Translated from the French by Jessica Moore
Publisher: Quercus Publishing
Number of pages: 288
Weight: 396 g
Dimensions: 220 x 142 x 28 mm
The book is a joyful testament to the rigours of research, and to the translator's art too . . . Maylis de Kerangal is mining a rich and individual seam -- Jonathan Gibbs * TLS *
Intensely alive, encompassing both the technical and the poetic, emotion and cerebrality -- Raphaelle Leyris * Le Monde *
Always brilliant, executed in flowing, lyrical prose that had already reached the firmament in [Mend the Living] . . . De Kerangal finds fiction in reality; precise, technical vocabulary is imbued with rich imagination and meaning. And mastering trompe-l'oeil - isn't that the ideal metaphor for the work of a novelist? -- Frederique Roussel * Liberation *
The art of painting in perfect harmony with de Kerangal's writing; visual, flamboyant, assured . . . in perfect alignment with her subject -- Marine Landrot * Telerama *
Kerangal's elegant, sexy, subtly Proustian, and fluidly dimensional drama of discipline and passion, imitation and
imagination is resplendently evocative and exhilarating.
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