Library Journal: Best World Literature of the Year
A fable, parable, and confession, the second novel from the acclaimed author of The Meursault Investigation pays homage to the essential need for fiction and to the freedom from tradition afforded by an adopted language.
Having lost his mother and been shunned by his father, Zabor grows up in the company of books, which teach him a new language. Ever since he can remember, he has been convinced that he has a gift: if he writes, he will stave off death; those captured in the sentences of his notebooks will live longer. Like a kind of inverted Scheherazade saving his fellow men, he experiments night after night with the delirious power of the imagination.
Then, one night, his estranged half brother and the other relatives who would disown him come knocking at the door: his father is going to die and perhaps only Zabor is capable of delaying that fateful moment. Sitting next to the father who has ostracized him, the son writes compulsively, retracing an existence characterized by strangeness, abandonment, and humiliation, but also by wondrous encounters with fictional worlds that he alone in the entire village can access.