As you are whisked between ancient Rome and 1950's Harvard be prepared to have all your ideas about history, literature and (especially) time severely challenged by this blackly comic yet murderous novel.
'That business about the book relating to the decline and fall of Rome - you must remember that brilliant invention of Mazuf''s - tends to cause a little disquiet among the politicians of the Capitol. It could be subversive propaganda, or, even worse, treason instigated by barbarians from across the Alps. You've heard the rumours that Mazuf was killed for inventing the book and its author: some people even say that some government agents were involved. A state crime, not a settling of scores among pederasts. Anyway, with these turbulent waters, I said to myself I had better shut up about this and recite some uncontroversial fragment. No politics.'