Novel of the week: The Pages by Hugo Hamilton
Hugo Hamilton’s ‘remarkable’ novel teems with ideas about memory and legacy
On one level this ingenious book is “a pretty straightforward mystery yarn”, said Andrew Motion in The Guardian.
Lena Knecht, a Manhattan-based artist of German-Irish parentage, has inherited a first edition of Joseph Roth’s 1924 novel Rebellion. At the back of it is a hand-drawn diagram: is it a vital clue in a treasure hunt? There’s only one way to find out – by travelling to Berlin, where the book narrowly escaped a Nazi bonfire. But here’s the twist: the story is narrated by the book itself.
The book’s narration intertwines Lena’s family history with episodes from Roth’s own tragic life and encounters with present-day refugees, said Boyd Tonkin in the FT. It teems with ideas about memory and legacy, but never gets bogged down, thanks to its “brisk and swift” narrative.
Hamilton has great fun with the central conceit, said Michael Arditti in The Spectator, but his underlying purpose is “deeply serious”, and there is considerable subtlety in the way he shows modern-day horrors mirroring those of the past. The Pages is a “remarkable” novel, worthy of Roth’s own great works.
Fourth Estate 304pp £14.99; The Week Bookshop £11.99
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