Literature can be contagious; it can also be our only means of salvation. That at least is the experience of Montano, the unreliable narrator of Enrique Vila-Matas prize-winning novel, a man and a writer who is so obsessed with the books of certain celebrated contemporaries that he is unable to put pen to paper or utter a word without summoning up their work or their lives, and whose malady is that he finds it impossible to distinguish between real life and fictional reality. Part picaresque novel, part intimate diary, part memoir, part philosophical musings, Vila-Matas has created a labyrinth in which writers as various as Cervantes, Sterne, Kafka, Musil, Perec, Bola o, Coetzee, Sebald and Magris cross endlessly surprising paths, while his protagonist leads the reader on an unsettling journey from European cities such as Nantes, Barcelona, Lisbon, Prague and Budapest to the Azores and the Chilean port of Valpara so. Yet for all the author's dazzling literary pyrotechnics, this is a novel that is always witty and accessible.
Enrique Vila-Matas was born in Barcelona in 1948 and is regarded as one of the outstanding Spanish novelists of his generation. He has written many prize-winning novels, including the universally acclaimed Bartleby & Co