Perlmann's Silence by Pascal Mercier

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In Mr. Mercier's fiction, readers are supposed to be attentive listeners—and just as in a Perlmann seminar, some of them may have a hard time staying interested.
-WSJ online

Synopsis

"What might have been, in less talented hands, an amusing literary thriller is, in Mercier's prose . . . something far more complex." —Alberto Manguel, The Guardian (UK)

Night Train to Lisbon, a tremendous international best seller, established Pascal Mercier as one of the most striking European voices in recent years, a writer whose finely wrought language and suspenseful narratives captivate readers' hearts and minds while equally quickening their pulses. Now, in Perlmann’s Silence, Mercier returns with a deft psychological portrait of a man striving to get his life back on track in the wake of his beloved wife’s death.

Philipp Perlmann is a prominent linguist who's come to a picturesque seaside town near Genoa to speak at a gathering of renowned international colleagues. Derailed by grief over his wife's sudden death in an accident, Perlmann is no longer confident of his professional standing, and writing his keynote address seems like an insurmountable task. As the deadline approaches, Perlmann realizes that he will have nothing to present to his expectant colleagues. Panic sets in and he decides to plagiarize the work of Leskov, a Russian colleague who was unable to attend. But when Leskov’s imminent arrival is announced and threatens to expose Perlmann as a fraud, Perlmann’s mounting desperation drives him to the brink of murder.

An exquisite, captivating portrait of a mind slowly unraveling, Perlmann’s Silence is a brilliant, textured meditation on the complex interplay between language and memory, and the depths of the human psyche.
 

About Pascal Mercier

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A professor of philosophy, Pascal Mercier was born in 1944 in Bern, Switzerland. Perlmann's Silence is his second novel to be translated into English, following the bestselling Night Train to Lisbon. He currently lives in Berlin.
 
Published January 3, 2012 by Grove Press. 625 pages
Genres: Literature & Fiction. Fiction
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WSJ online

Below average
Reviewed by Sam Sacks on Jan 07 2012

In Mr. Mercier's fiction, readers are supposed to be attentive listeners—and just as in a Perlmann seminar, some of them may have a hard time staying interested.

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