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C by Tom McCarthy
  

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Hailed as one of the novels of 2010 and shortlisted for Man Booker this dazzling, complex, evocative and beautifully written book follows the life of Serge born at the beginning of the 20th Century. It’s a challenging but rewarding read.

If you like Tom McCarthy you might also like to read books by Thomas Pynchon, Roberto Bolano and Samuel Beckett.


The Good Book Guide logo The Good Book Guide Review. This is the intriguing story of Serge Carrefax who is born into an eccentric family at the end of the 19th century. His father is an amateur inventor who runs a school for deaf children and is obsessed with modern methods of communication, even installing his own telegraph. Serge himself becomes fascinated by wireless and finds it easier to communicate with people across the ether than with those closer to him. The story takes us to fin de siecle Vienna, through the First World War, where Serge becomes a pilot and discovers drugs, and on to Egypt where he is part of a team setting up a link for the burgeoning Empire’s communication network. This is a classic contemporary novel that thoroughly deserved a place on the Man Booker shortlist.
~ Anthony Lafferty

Synopsis

C by Tom McCarthy

C follows the short, intense life of Serge Carrefax, a man who - as his name suggests - surges into the electric modernity of the early twentieth century, transfixed by the technologies that will obliterate him. Born to the sound of one of the very earliest experimental wireless stations, Serge finds himself steeped in a weird world of transmissions, whose very air seems filled with cryptic and poetic signals of all kinds. When personal loss strikes him in his adolescence, this world takes on a darker and more morbid aspect. What follows is a stunning tour de force in which the eerily idyllic settings of pre-war Europe give way to the exhilarating flight-paths of the frontline aeroplane radio operator, then the prison camps of Germany, the drug-fuelled London of the roaring twenties and, finally, the ancient tombs of Egypt.


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Reviews

C inserts itself, slyly yet confidently, into the history of modernism. This is a genuinely exciting and spookily beautiful book, a new kind of joy -- Neel Mukherjee * The Times * McCarthy is fast revealing himself as a master craftsman who is steering the contemporary novel towards exciting territories * Observer * Skilfully realised, ambitious -- Christopher Taylor * Guardian * An intelligent, ambitious book... A beautiful, accessible novel with a thrilling tale. This is one of the most brilliant books to have hit the shelves this year and McCarthy deserves high praise for an electric piece of writing which should be enjoyed as well as discussed -- Beth Jones * Sunday Telegraph * C is formidably well assembled, and it is admirable for an unashamed literary ambition -- Peter Carty * Independent on Sunday *


About the Author

Tom McCarthy

Tom McCarthy was born in 1969 and grew up in London. His creation, in 1999, of the International Necronautical Society (INS), a 'semi-fictitious organisation' that combines literature, art and philosophy, has led to publications, installations and exhibitions in galleries and museums around the world, from Tate Britain and the ICA in London to Moderna Museet in Stockholm and The Drawing Center in New York. Tom regularly writes on literature and art for publications including The New York Times, The London Review of Books and Artforum.

Below is a Q&A with this author.

1) What led you into writing?
I always wanted to write.

2) What was your earliest career aspiration?
To be Shakespeare. I wrote 'Macbeth, by Tom McCarthy' aged 7.

3) Can you describe your book Men in Space and its inspiration in thirty words?
It's about disintegration – of all types – in the wake of the collapse of communism in Prague.

4) Do you have any plans for your next book (C)?
It's about technology and mourning.

5) What has been the most exciting moment in your career?
Having my first novel, on its initial limited release by a small art press, reviewed at length in the Times Literary Supplement. I hadn't expected that, and knew that nothing would be the same again.

6) What are you reading right now?
Your questions.

7) If you could have dinner with any three people, past or present, who would they be?
They'd be characters, not writers: one of Sade's libertines, Huysmans's Des Esseintes, Melville's Queequeg.

8) Which period in history would you most like to have lived through?
I'd have liked to be a regular at Warhol's Factory. Or the French Revolution.

9) If your house was on fire, which three books would you save from the flames?
My copy of Finnegans Wake; my diary from when I was eight (best thing I've ever written); my copy of The Sound and the Fury.

10) What do you do to relax?
Look out of my twelfth-floor window.

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Book Info

Publication date

4th August 2011

Author

Tom McCarthy

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Publisher

Vintage

Format

Paperback
320 pages

Categories

Literary Fiction
eBook Favourites

Modern & contemporary fiction (post c 1945)

ISBN

9780099547020

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