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In 1989, Saul is hit by a car on the Abbey Rd crossing. He is fine; he gets up and goes to see his girlfriend, Jennifer. They have sex and then break up. He leaves for the GDR, where he will have more sex (with several members of the same family), harvest mushrooms in the rain, bury his dead father in a matchbox, and get on the wrong side of the Stasi.
In 2016, Saul is hit by a car on the Abbey Rd crossing. He is not fine at all; he is rushed to hospital and spends the following days in and out of consciousness, in and out of history. Jennifer is sitting by his bedside. His very-much-not-dead father is sitting by his bedside. Someone important is missing.
Deborah Levy presents an ambitious, playful and totally electrifying novel about what we see and what we fail to see, about carelessness and the harm we do to others, about the weight of history and our ruinous attempts to shrug it off.
Author: Deborah Levy.
Hardback, 208 pp, Published September 2019.
Reviewed and Recommended by Graeme:
"Longlisted for the Man Booker 2019 Award, this new novel makes for very intriguing and at times perplexing read. The novel is in two parts, linked by the same incident - the main character Saul Adler being hit by a car on the famous Abbey Road crossing. It happens in 1988 and 100 pages later it happens again in 2016. After the second accident, the narrative becomes even more slippery and unreliable. Saul is hospitalised, heavily sedated, and could possibly be dying. His dead father visits his hospital bed. What is real and what is a hallucination? The two accidents are tangled and confused in Saul’s mind. Blessed with striking looks, Saul is the muse for his photographer girlfriend Jennifer. Yet their relationship is tempestuous. They break up and Saul decamps to East Germany, to pursue his studies of Western European communism. But he is persona non grata with the family he is staying with as he neglected to bring them the tin of pineapple they requested. This forgotten pineapple becomes an amusing riff through the narrative. He is seduced by his host, translator Walter Muller, who he falls in love with and in the fever of his passion, may have unwittingly set the authorities onto Walter. But things become even more complicated when Walter’s sister seduces him... This is a time-bending, enigmatic read with a narrative that is as fluid as Saul Adler’s sexuality!"