Piranesi’s house is no ordinary building: its rooms are infinite, its corridors endless, its walls are lined with thousands upon thousands of statues, each one different from all the others.
In his notebooks, day after day, he makes a clear and careful record of its wonders: the labyrinth of halls, the thousands upon thousands of statues, the tides that thunder up staircases, the clouds that move in slow procession through the upper halls. On Tuesdays and Fridays Piranesi sees his friend, the Other. At other times he brings tributes of food to the Dead. But mostly, he is alone.
Messages begin to appear, scratched out in chalk on the pavements. There is someone new in the House. But who are they and what do they want? Are they a friend or do they bring destruction and madness as the Other claims?
Lost texts must be found; secrets must be uncovered. The world that Piranesi thought he knew is becoming strange and dangerous.
NOMINATING LIBRARY COMMENTS
Susanna Clarke’s Piranesi is best approached by the first time reader in complete ignorance, so to offer any kind of summary is a mistake. Reviewers surely overused the words “luminous”, “ethereal”, “dreamlike”, and “elegant” – let me just say that the book is a beautiful and mysterious delight, that it is both remarkably concrete and entirely internal, and that that it remains in the mind long after the last page is turned.
Richland Library, United States
Susanna Clarke is a singular quantity in the contemporary literary landscape, mining the fantastical to ponder philosophical questions about the self. In Piranesi, Clarke introduces us to a protagonist trapped in a vast indoor labyrinth–a predicament that would seem harrowing but for his love of his surroundings. Through her transcendent prose, Clarke forces us to ask: If we are cut off from our former selves, what might we become? To what extent can a prison become a refuge? How do we define knowledge and its value? And, ultimately, is real freedom dependent on solitude?
Richmond Public Library, United States