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A Booker-longlisted novel of art, absence, loss and passion, from Britain’s most exciting contemporary writer.
Moving between Italy and England, the lives of four people intertwine across half a century: a dying painter considers the sacrifices and losses that have made him an enigma; a blind girl tries to make sense of a world she can no longer see; a landscape artist finds himself trapped in dangerous terrain, and a young woman embarks on a dangerous affair of darkness and sexual abandon.
Tour de force in many ways...breathtakingly clever. Then there's the characterisation which is both bright and deep: each of the characters is distinct, believable, complex, flawed and human... but the best reason for loving this novel is the poetic quality of the prose... [it] was longlisted for the 2009 Man Booker prize. Why on earth wasn't it shortlisted?
Beautifully realised... the split narratives and time jumps demand concetration, but it's worth it. Meditations on art glue everything together, and Hall's prose is raw, surprising and often quite magnificent.
Her most satisfying [novel] so far... Hall's use of language is remarkably rich and intense. She adds layer upon layer like paint... How to Paint A Dead Man is that rare thing, a novel that feels too brief, too controlled. These stories could easily have uncoiled over further pages without feeling overlaboured.
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Memorable novel... Hall skilfully avoids a conventional narrative structure in favour of impressionistic tableaux, her brush strokes delicately adding layer upon layer to her characters.
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