Map of Blue Book Balloon

9 May 2020

Quick impressions: Extract from "Piranesi" by Susanna Clarke

Piranesi (extract)
Susanna Clarke
Bloomsbury, 15 September 2020
Available as: HB, 272pp, e
Read as: short extract from e-book
ISBN: 9781526622426

I have been looking forward to Susanna Clarke's new book so was pleased to that a short extract was available on Netgalley. I'm very grateful to NetGalley and to Bloomsbury for providing this.

The text supplied is too short for anything approaching a review, but here are some thoughts...

This is a tantalising extract. We meet the man (boy?) "Piranesi", apparently one of two inhabitants in a vast building, or complex, of halls filled with statues, the only place that he (or his companion, "The Other") seem to be aware of. Piranesi speculates about how many humans there have been: fifteen, he thinks, including him and The Other, based on skeletons he has discovered. He seems to have no knowledge of any parents. He and The Other are hungry for knowledge.

The reader will ask other questions. Piranesi can read and write. Who taught him?

What is this place he lives in - apparently washed by tides in its lower levels?

One clue - only - one familiar reference - in this extract tells us a little about Piranesi's world. How did it get there?

The extract leaves me wondering if Clarke's full work builds on that detail, leading P. to discover more about a wider world, or if it will be left to intrigue. Think Gormenghast, before Titus leaves. A world unto itself, with apparently no need of the outside. There's scope in that for a story that examines events in the self-sufficient space we are shown, but also for a wider one - for a voyage to the outside, for strangers to arrive. Which will it be?

There are few answers in the extract but enough to make me anticipate this book even more! Roll on September!

For more about the book, see the publisher's website here.

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