Faber & Faber
In the spring of 1967, young student Adam Walker encounters Rudolf Born at a party. Fascinated by the Frenchman, who appears to approach life as if he were ‘lacerated by the jabbing knives of despair, disgust and self-contempt’, Adam allows himself to be swept up into the stranger’s world. Only too late does he realise the threat Born poses.
Neither highbrow heavyweight nor mainstream populist, Paul Auster writes fiction that is regarded as serious entertainment: eminently readable yet unafraid to ruminate on some big questions. True, Adam lacks colour and Born, who may or may not be working for the CIA, is a bit of a Cold War caricature, but their meetings simmer with tension that quickly comes to a boil. Likewise, the constant shift in narrative voice intrigues, as Auster questions the very nature of memory and recollection, accepting that one person’s truth is, ultimately, little more than another’s fiction.