I haven’t been so captivated by a book since before my daughter was born (and that was over 4 months ago!). I simply couldn’t put Piranesi, by Susanna Clarke, down. Firstly, it’s incredibly unique: it blends our complex, busy, present world with a fantastical, simple, barren one. But if “Fantasy” is a no-go for you, this one is still worth a go – trust me on that. In my opinion, this book could just as easily be categorized as a psychological thriller, mystery, literary fiction, or sci-fi. It really has a little of everything.
Most importantly, though there are just two characters for much of the book, Clarke is somehow able to keep Piranesi’s voice interesting and the novel’s action moving quickly, even in a world where nothing much happens beyond the tides coming and going. It’s truly remarkable.
But beyond just the gripping plot and entrancing voice, there is so much happening in this novel on a thematic level. It asks huge questions of the reader: what happens when we’re left alone? What does it mean to be in touch with one’s surroundings? These questions (and so many others) are, perhaps, even more intriguing and insightful given our recent experiences during a global pandemic – sometimes Piranesi’s experiences hit really close to home.
With so many ethical, philosophical, and thematic overtones, I found it especially helpful after finishing this one to listen in on a few podcasts with the author. In particular, I’d recommend this discussion with Susanna Clarke, from Vox FM (I listened on Spotify, so you can find it there as well!).
10 for 10 I recommend this one to just about anyone.