OK, Mr Field
A powerful and strange story of obsession, disintegration and loneliness, from a young writer with extraordinary talent.
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Mr Field, a concert pianist travelling back from a performance in London, fractures his left wrist in a train crash. On a whim, he uses his compensation cheque to buy a house he has seen only in a newspaper, a replica of Le Corbusier’s Villa Savoye built on a stretch of coast outside Cape Town. When he moves there with his wife Mim, the house – which Le Corbusier designed as ‘a machine for living’ – has a disturbing effect. Mim disappears without apology or explanation and Mr Field can barely summon the strength to search for her.
OK, Mr Field is funny and beguiling and like nothing you’ve ever read. It dwells in the silences between words, in the gaps in conversations, and in the distances between people. It confidently guides us into new fictional territory.
Katharine Kilalea is to literature what ceramic knives are to cookery. This is a whole new type of writing and it will cut through everything.
One of the most original, beautifully-written and convincing works of fiction I have read in a long time, with a narrative that is both mysterious yet compulsive. Utterly marvellous.
OK, Mr Field is a novel brave in its own intelligence and subtlety. The writing is quietly beautiful and the narrator’s voice strange and compelling.
‘Katharine Kilalea is a South African poet who has written a startlingly good first novel… it is hard to convey the shocking accuracy of Kilalea's prose, which, ultimately, is what makes this novel so riveting. The absolute correctness of the vocabulary she uses makes one realise how pretentious and unnecessary the language in much contemporary fiction is. This would be nothing, of course, if Kilalea didn't have anything to say, but she has so much to convey about loneliness, madness and mortality. The literary critic Harold Bloom has said that what makes Kafka's Metamorphosis so disorientating is its strange familiarity, and OK, Mr Field has this by the bucketload. This curious, short (it is just 200 pages long) book feels as uncanny as Kafka or Beckett.’
[A] bewitching debut novel . . . with prose of this quality it is hard to protest, and Mr Field is in any case good company — irascible and weird, but endearing in his attempts to duck the loneliness waiting for him at every turn.
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