cover image The Mark and the Void

The Mark and the Void

Paul Murray. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, $27 (480p) ISBN 978-0-86547-755-1

Murray’s follow-up to Skippy Dies is a protracted jab at the world of banking, a charming send-up of the financial crisis that is hilariously absent of hope. Claude Martingale is a French émigré living in Dublin and working for the Investment Bank of Torabundo. His life is not entertaining. So why does Paul, a novelist (who happens to share the actual author’s first name), want to make Claude the everyman protagonist of his next novel? With the approval of bank management, Paul begins to shadow Claude through his typical office work days. But it quickly becomes clear there’s more to Paul’s interest than he’s saying. Add to this intrigue the potential collapse of Ireland’s economy, tent cities inhabited by protestors dressed as zombies, and a mad Russian mathematician around whose equations BOT may be structuring its new Structured Products Department, and Murray’s latest quickly takes off. Here, again, the author displays much of the quick wit of his popular previous novel, but this effort also boasts a more modernist slant, with ever-blurring lines between art imitating life and life imitating art for the characters. The result is another page-turner with smarts, an absurdist riff on our economic follies, one that leaves the impression that it’s all not so far-fetched, after all. (Oct.)