by Daniel Kehlmann

F is a puzzle book of a novel that is much like the Rubik's Cube on the front cover. At the centre of the story are the Freedlands, specifically the father and his three adult sons, all struggling with the path each has taken in life. It is a book that explores fate through the shortcomings and anxieties of the four men. Clever or confusing may depend on your own view but one thing for sure, it poses plenty of questions.


I work in silence, sometimes aware of my own whistling. Only a few details are still missing. The quiet of the studio surrounds me like a solid substance. The noise of the city doesn't penetrate up here, and even the heat is blocked. It can continue like that for long stretches. When I think back on the hours of work, I can barely remember them - it's as if they had been extinguished by my concentration.
Up here a couple of points of light to add, and down there a shadow to blur the features of the child. The number plate needs a fleck of rust. People need to be able to see the brushstrokes, thick, in the style of the Old Masters! And then the last point of light, an accent made up of white, ochre and orange. I step back, lift the palette, take a little bit of black, and with a quick stroke add the date and signature in the corner: Heinrich Eulenboeck, 1974.
Translated by Carol Brown Janeway


The Unconsoled by Kazuo Ishiguro

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