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Umbrella
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SHORTLISTED FOR THE MAN BOOKER PRIZE 2012 The major new novel by the author of Great Apes, How the Dead Live and The Book of Dave

About the Author

Will Self is the author of many novels and books of non-fiction, including How the Dead Live, which was shortlisted for the Whitbread Novel of the Year 2002 and The Butt, winner of the Bollinger Everyman Wodehouse Prize for Comic Fiction 2008. He lives in South London.

Reviews

In these culturally straitened times few writers would have the artistic effrontery to offer us a novel as daring, exuberant and richly dense as Umbrella. Will Self has carried the Modernist challenge into the twenty-first century, and worked a wonder * John Banville *
Umbrella is his best book yet ... It makes new for today the lessons taught by the morals of Catch 22, Slaughterhouse Five, The Tin Drum, also Marquez's Chronicle of a Death Foretold * Alasdair Gray *
Self has never been shortlisted for the Booker, but Umbrella is such a linguistically adept, emotionally subtle and ethically complex novel that this could and should be his year * Guardian *
A tour de force ... Despite the bleakness of the message, by the end you are filled with elation at the author's exuberant ambition and the swaggering way he carries it all off, and then a huge sense of deflation at the realisation that whatever book you read next, it won't be anything like this * Daily Mail *
A dazzling feat of imagination and structure: a sprawling, lyrical, stream-of-consciousness narrative that squares up to modernism and brings it kicking and screaming into the 21st century ... stomach-lurchingly ambitious * Observer *
The reader is snagged on moments of brilliance and, most thrilling of all, left to make her own connections * Daily Telegraph *
A superbly realised exemplar of an older and rarer genre - a metaphysical novel in the tradition of Edgar Allan Poe's The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym, exploring the evanescence of consciousness in a material world that can never be finally understood * New Statesman, Books of the Year *
Umbrella is a magnificent celebration of modernist prose, an epic account of the first world war, a frightening investigation into the pathology of mental illness ... must be recognised as, above all, a virtuoso triumph of emotional and creative intelligence * Spectator *
Kind of amazing ... It may not be his easiest, but I think this may be Will Self's best book * Sam Leith, Observer *
Ambitious and mind-blowing linguistic tapestry of a novel * Independent on Sunday *
Amazing - it's like a different creature altogether * Alison Moore, The Observer *
Passionate and melancholic * Times Literary Supplement *
A high-spirited footnote to the modernism of James Joyce, this fascinating literary experiment came tantalisingly close to winning the 2012 Booker prize ... Umbrella is one of the most exhilarating "difficult" books published for many years ... Rarely has a historic novel provided such a challenge * Observer *
He succeeds beautifully, writing with a new sophistication. The result is a stunning novel, and a compelling Self-reinvention * Independent on Sunday *
Extraordinary * The Lady *
By the end you are filled with elation at the author's exuberant ambition and the swaggering way he carries it all off, and then a huge sense of deflation at the realisation that whatever book you read next, it won't be anything like this * Daily Mail *
An ebullient, seductive, virtuoso display of imaginative prose which, if you have the stamina, is truly mind-blowing [...] wonderfully achieved. If I was on the panel I would vote for its Falstaffian audacity and wayward charm * Robert McCrum, Observer *
Time slips, perspectives shift and the book's wormhole dance is dazzling * Financial Times, Books of the Year *
Self is the Marmite of contemporary fiction - some find his verbal fireworks show-offy, others love his anarchic sheer bloody brilliance ... His playful way with language and layout is unstoppably entertaining * Kate Saunders, The Times *
His deepest and most rewarding novel to date. Madness, war, mechanisation; class, feminism and modernity - all these and more are interrogated in a dense slab of prose that spans the 20th century and jumps from one consciousness to another in the high old modernist style * Guardian, Books of the Year *
Will Self finds his authentic voice as a writer and reclaims the high modernist mode as a natural and highly emotional form of narration. It's exhilarating for that reason ... Once you get used to it, it's not at all difficult to read * Jonathan Coe, Metro *
A wonderful piece of sustained writing and passion. Just dive in and let it take you to good places * A. L. Kennedy, Scotsman Books of the Year *
Books of the Year * Boyd Tonkin, Independent *
An ambitious and sophisticated book about memory and the human brain that - with its shifting time frames, flipping points of view and voices in various heads - in no way advertised its ease for the reader * Daily Telegraph *
A fun book, endearingly self-satisfied. It is difficult not to enjoy its tricks and bravura flourishes * Eileen Battersby, Irish Times Book of the Year *
Extravagant, imaginative and utterly bonkers: Self's best yet * Observer *

Shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize, Self's sweeping experimental new novel (after Walking to Hollywood) creaks under the weight of chaotic complexity. At its core lies a fractured matrix only partially resembling a coherent story. For more than 50 years, octogenarian Audrey Death aka De'Ath, Deeth, Deerth has languished in North London's Friern Mental Hospital, suffering from encephalitis lethargica-a brain-damaging sleeping sickness she contracted in 1918 that renders patients either "whirled into a twisted immobility, or else unwound spastic, hypotonic." In 1971, whiz-bang psychiatrist Zachary Busner attempts to revive her and other "enkies" by plying them with L-Dopa (an anti-Parkinson's drug). A fleeting reawakening reveals jarring glimpses into Audrey's past (a hardscrabble childhood in Edwardian England; a job at a WWI munitions factory; a raunchy love affair with a married man), with alternating flashbacks to the lives of her brothers Stan (a gunner in the war) and Bert (a puffed-up civil servant), and jumps forward to Busner in 2010 reminiscing about his past (a failed marriage; adultery; his mixed career). Lacking chapter breaks, paragraph separations (mostly), and hopping between these four characters' stream-of-consciousness points of view, the already puzzling tome can be difficult to follow, let alone grasp. But with snippets of dialects, stylistic flourishes, and inventive phrases loose with meaning, for those who grab hold and hang on, the experience falls just shy of brilliant. Agent: Andrew Wylie, the Wylie Agency. (Jan.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

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