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A disturbing, ground-breaking book about Perec's wartime childhood, and about where truth and fiction overlap
Georges Perec (1936-82) won the Prix Renaudot in 1965 for his first novel Things- A Story of the Sixties, and went on to exercise his unrivalled mastery of language in almost every imaginable kind of writing, from the apparently trivial to the deeply personal. He composed acrostics, anagrams, autobiography, criticism, crosswords, descriptions of dreams, film scripts, heterograms, lipograms, memories, palindromes, plays, poetry, radio plays, recipes, riddles, stories short and long, travel notes, univocalics, and, of course, novels. Life- A User's Manual, which draws on many of Perec's other works, appeared in 1978 after nine years in the making and was acclaimed a masterpiece to put beside Joyce's Ulysses. It won the Prix Medicis and established Perec's international reputation.
"Perec was a haunted writer, haunted by his Jewish ancestry, by the Holocaust that coincided with his own orphaned childhood, by the death of his father in 1940 and his mother's disappearance in Auschwitz. Writing, for him, was an act of exorcism" * Sunday Times * "A strange and complicated book, a work of tremendous, silenced emotion" * Observer * "His brilliant and profound memoir-fantasy deserves to be recognised for what it is: a masterpiece" * Guardian * "The childhood story of 'W' carries Perec's confused conception of the concentration camps...bewilderingly sad" * Independent * "Perec was a polymathic genius, and his early death in 1982 (he was only 45) robbed France of its most dazzling experimental writer, one who tried everything and failed at nothing...He has, deservedly, become a cult in France, particularly with young Parisians, who instinctively (and rightly) identify him as the super-zapper, the biographer of their fragmented consumer culture, of which he was himself the creation." * Glasgow Herald *