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Piranesi
Cover of Piranesi
Piranesi
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New York Times Bestseller
Shortlisted for the Women's Prize for Fiction
World Fantasy Awards Finalist

From the New York Times bestselling author of Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, an intoxicating, hypnotic new novel set in a dreamlike alternative reality.

Piranesi's house is no ordinary building: its rooms are infinite, its corridors endless, its walls are lined with thousands upon thousands of statues, each one different from all the others. Within the labyrinth of halls an ocean is imprisoned; waves thunder up staircases, rooms are flooded in an instant. But Piranesi is not afraid; he understands the tides as he understands the pattern of the labyrinth itself. He lives to explore the house.
There is one other person in the house-a man called The Other, who visits Piranesi twice a week and asks for help with research into A Great and Secret Knowledge. But as Piranesi explores, evidence emerges of another person, and a terrible truth begins to unravel, revealing a world beyond the one Piranesi has always known.
For readers of Neil Gaiman's The Ocean at the End of the Lane and fans of Madeline Miller's Circe, Piranesi introduces an astonishing new world, an infinite labyrinth, full of startling images and surreal beauty, haunted by the tides and the clouds.
New York Times Bestseller
Shortlisted for the Women's Prize for Fiction
World Fantasy Awards Finalist

From the New York Times bestselling author of Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, an intoxicating, hypnotic new novel set in a dreamlike alternative reality.

Piranesi's house is no ordinary building: its rooms are infinite, its corridors endless, its walls are lined with thousands upon thousands of statues, each one different from all the others. Within the labyrinth of halls an ocean is imprisoned; waves thunder up staircases, rooms are flooded in an instant. But Piranesi is not afraid; he understands the tides as he understands the pattern of the labyrinth itself. He lives to explore the house.
There is one other person in the house-a man called The Other, who visits Piranesi twice a week and asks for help with research into A Great and Secret Knowledge. But as Piranesi explores, evidence emerges of another person, and a terrible truth begins to unravel, revealing a world beyond the one Piranesi has always known.
For readers of Neil Gaiman's The Ocean at the End of the Lane and fans of Madeline Miller's Circe, Piranesi introduces an astonishing new world, an infinite labyrinth, full of startling images and surreal beauty, haunted by the tides and the clouds.
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Awards-
About the Author-
  • Susanna Clarke's debut novel Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell was first published in more than 34 countries and was longlisted for the Man Booker Prize and shortlisted for the Whitbread First Novel Award and the Guardian First Book Award. It won British Book Awards Newcomer of the Year, the Hugo Award and the World Fantasy Award in 2005. The Ladies of Grace Adieu, a collection of short stories, some set in the world of Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, was published by Bloomsbury in 2006. Piranesi was a New York Times and Sunday Times bestseller, and shortlisted for the Costa Novel of the Year Award, the RSL Encore Award and the Women's Prize for Fiction. Susanna Clarke lives in Derbyshire.
Reviews-
  • Publisher's Weekly

    Starred review from June 29, 2020
    Clarke wraps a twisty mystery inside a metaphysical fantasy in her extraordinary new novel, her first since 2004’s Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell. The story unfolds as journal entries written by the eponymous narrator, who, along with an enigmatic master known as the Other (and 13 skeletons whom Piranesi regards as persons) inhabits the House, a vast, labyrinthine structure of statue-adorned halls and vestibules. So immense is the House that its many parts support their own internal climates, all of which Piranesi vividly describes (“I squeezed myself into the Woman’s Niche and waited until I heard the Tides roaring in the Lower Halls and felt the Walls vibrating with the force of what was about to happen”). Meanwhile, the Other is pursuing the “Great and Secret Knowledge” of the ancients. After the Other worriedly asks Piranesi if he’s seen in the house a person they refer to as 16, Piranesi’s curiosity is piqued, and all the more so after the Other instructs him to hide. In their discussions about 16, it becomes increasingly clear the Other is gaslighting Piranesi about his memory, their relationship, and the reality they share. With great subtlety, Clarke gradually elaborates an explanatory backstory to her tale’s events and reveals sinister occult machinations that build to a crescendo of genuine horror. This superbly told tale is sure to be recognized as one of the year’s most inventive novels.

  • Kirkus

    July 1, 2020
    The much-anticipated second novel from the author of Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell (2004). The narrator of this novel answers to the name "Piranesi" even though he suspects that it's not his name. This name was chosen for him by the Other, the only living person Piranesi has encountered during his extensive explorations of the House. Readers who recognize Piranesi as the name of an Italian artist known for his etchings of Roman ruins and imaginary prisons might recognize this as a cruel joke that the Other enjoys at the expense of the novel's protagonist. It is that, but the name is also a helpful clue for readers trying to situate themselves in the world Clarke has created. The character known as Piranesi lives within a Classical structure of endless, inescapable halls occasionally inundated by the sea. These halls are inhabited by statues that seem to be allegories--a woman carrying a beehive; a dog-fox teaching two squirrels and two satyrs; two children laughing, one of them carrying a flute--but the meaning of these images is opaque. Piranesi is happy to let the statues simply be. With her second novel, Clarke invokes tropes that have fueled a century of surrealist and fantasy fiction as well as movies, television series, and even video games. At the foundation of this story is an idea at least as old as Chaucer: Our world was once filled with magic, but the magic has drained away. Clarke imagines where all that magic goes when it leaves our world and what it would be like to be trapped in that place. Piranesi is a naif, and there's much that readers understand before he does. But readers who accompany him as he learns to understand himself will see magic returning to our world. Weird and haunting and excellent.

    COPYRIGHT(2020) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

  • Library Journal

    Starred review from July 1, 2020

    Clarke's (Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell) deftly written new novel is the diary of the main character, Piranesi, a man living in a labyrinthine building with infinite rooms full of enormous statues. He meets one other person, a mysterious figure called the Other, who is obsessed with finding the Great & Secret Knowledge. The Other enlists Piranesi's help to map the building and locate the knowledge. But as Piranesi's love of the building grows, so, too, does his understanding of who he is and how he got there. The Other's true intentions are gradually revealed when another being, possibly from a distant world, contacts Piranesi. Once Piranesi knows the truth, he must make decisions that will overturn his reality. Piranesi is an empathetic character, gullible to a fault, but only because of his limited worldview. VERDICT Clarke creates an immersive world that readers can almost believe exists. This is a solid crossover pick for readers whose appreciation of magical fantasy leans toward V.E. Schwab or Erin Morgenstern.--Lucy Roehrig, Ann Arbor Dist. Lib., MI

    Copyright 2020 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

  • Booklist

    Starred review from July 1, 2020
    In her highly distilled and rarefied first novel since her Hugo Award-winning debut, Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell (2004), Clarke posits another dynamic between a seeming mentor and mentee. But the realm in which their increasingly suspect relationship unspools is a bizarre and baffling one that we encounter through the journals kept by Clarke's earnest, spiritually creative narrator. He doesn't think Piranesi is his name, but that's what he's called by the older man he dubs the Other because he believes they are the only two people left alive. The actual Piranesi was an eighteenth-century Italian artist who created etchings of monumental and menacing architectural labyrinths, and, indeed, the exceedingly strange world Clarke has invented for her Piranesi, a self-described scientist and explorer, is a vast maze inexplicably populated by birds and gigantic statues and through which tides rise and fall, smashing against the walls. Threadbare Piranesi lives a spare, precarious existence, a noble innocent who believes that he has a duty to bear witness to the splendors of the World, while the Other, clearly prosperous and busy tapping at his shining device, is obsessed with seizing the power of Great and Secret Knowledge. As questions multiply and suspense mounts in this spellbinding, occult puzzle of a fable, one begins to wonder if perhaps the reverence, kindness, and gratitude practiced by Clarke's enchanting and resilient hero aren't all the wisdom one truly needs.HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: Clarke's international sensation, Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, also a BBC series, has engendered an enormous fan base eagerly awaiting her new book.(Reprinted with permission of Booklist, copyright 2020, American Library Association.)

  • The New York Times Book Review [Piranesi] flooded me, as the tides flood the halls, with a scouring grief, leaving gleaming gifts in its wake... rich, wondrous, full of aching joy and sweet sorrow.
  • The New Yorker A novel that feels like a surreal meditation on life in quarantine.
  • Madeline Miller, New York Times Bestselling Author of CIRCE Piranesi astonished me. It is a miraculous and luminous feat of storytelling, at once a gripping mystery, an adventure through a brilliant new fantasy world, and a deep meditation on the human condition: feeling lost, and being found. I already want to be back in its haunting and beautiful halls!
  • Sam Sacks, Wall Street Journal Piranesi is a high-quality page-turner-even the most leisurely reader will probably finish it off in a day-but its chief pleasure is immersion in its strange and uncannily attractive setting. . . Establishing that sense of totality-and the feeling of peacefulness that accompanies it-is Ms. Clarke's standout feat.
  • The Boston Globe Could Piranesi match [the hype]? I'm delighted to say it has, with Clarke's singular wit and imagination still intact in a far more compressed yet still captivating tale you'll want to delve into again right after you read its sublime last sentence.
  • Erin Morgenstern, NYT bestselling author of THE STARLESS SEA and THE NIGHT CIRCUS Piranesi is a gorgeous, spellbinding mystery that gently unravels page by page. Precisely the sort of book that I love wordlessly handing to someone so they can have the pleasure of uncovering its secrets for themselves. This book is a treasure, washed up upon a forgotten shore, waiting to be discovered.
  • David Mitchell, New York Times bestselling author of CLOUD ATLAS What a world Susanna Clarke conjures into being, what a tick-tock-tick-tock of reveals, what a pure protagonist, what a morally-squalid supporting cast, what beauty, tension and restraint, and what a pitch-perfect ending. Piranesi is an exquisite puzzle-box far, far bigger on the inside than it is on the outside.
  • Ron Charles, CBS Sunday Morning Book Report Destined to become a work of classic fantasy.
  • New York Magazine Piranesi Will Wreck You: The novel establishes Susanna Clarke as one of our greatest living writers.
  • The Washington Post Infinitely clever... none of [Clarke's] enchantment has worn off - it's evolved. . . to abide in these pages is to find oneself happily detained in awe.
  • The Los Angeles Times The long-awaited followup to Jonathan Strange is even more magically immersive. . . Here is a protagonist with no guile, no greed, no envy, no cruelty, and yet still intriguing.
  • Slate, Best Books of 2020 [Piranesi's] love of the house and the meaning he finds in his humble life within it give this unusual novel a radiant, gentle, melancholy heart.
  • The New Republic Susanna Clarke has fashioned her own myth anew and enlarged the world again.
  • Bookpage, starred review Almost impossible to put down... lavishly descriptive, charming, heartbreaking and imbued with a magic that will be familiar to Clarke's devoted readers, Piranesi will satisfy lovers of Jonathan Strange and win her many new fans.
  • Kirkus Reviews, Starred Review Readers who accompany [Piranesi] as he learns to understand himself will see magic returning to our wo
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