Wednesday, 16 January 2008

The Athenian Murders - Jose Carlos Somoza

I finished this a while ago but needed to digest it a bit before writing about it. 'The Athenian Murders' centres around a fictional text describing, you've guessed it, murders in Athens! This text is being translated by a man who decides it is an example of 'eidesis', a technique, invented by Somoza but of Greek origin in the book, of portraying images that are unrelated to the actual text in the mind of the reader by emphasizing particular words or phrases. As the translator works on the text he becomes more and more convinced that he is in it. There are bizarre parallels between his life and events within the text, and then things get even more strange when he discovers other similarities between the text and the person who worked on it previously, who just happened to come to a rather sticky end. Or did he?

This is a book to read slowly and savour, otherwise it gets rather confusing. The layers upon layers are intricately woven and over-lapping, and the stories combine in a rather tortuous way, but so cleverly done that it is a very satisfying read, though it's quite difficult to explain without going a bit cross-eyed.

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