Anna Kavan, Author, Jennifer Sturm, Introduction by . Peter Owen $32.95 (189p) ISBN 978-0-7206-1287-5

British author Kavan (1901–1968) plays with the confusion of reality and unreality in this understated posthumous novel set in a nebulous time and place. When Mark, the somewhat unstable and unreliable narrator, is young, his war-hero father treasonously converts to pacifism and is forced to abandon him. Further isolated by a gradual separation and distancing from his mother, Mark is fully cast adrift by his parents’ deaths, for which he blames himself, in an enemy bombing during his last year at boarding school. The similarities between Kavan’s work (Ice ) and Kafka’s quickly become evident when Mark, now an adult, must contend with a hostile and unresponsive government bureaucracy. He’s also torn between the powerful and mysterious Mr. Spector, whom he sees as both protector and nemesis, and the enigmatic love interest, Carla, who remains tantalizingly near but remote. Kavan’s ability to penetrate psychological tangles with startling acuity is in full force in this powerful journey conducted by a very troubled mind. (Jan.)

Reviewed on: 11/12/2007
Release date: 05/01/2007
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