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288pp original paperback
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The river is the river
by Jonathan buckley
A dazzlingly inventive novel that explores the whole nature of storytelling and writing.
A woman called Naomi arrives at her sister’s house, intending, it seems, to say goodbye. She is abandoning her city life for a remote Scottish retreat, which she will share with a man named Bernát, whom she considers some kind of visionary.
In a sequence of stories filtered through multiple retellings, she illuminates the character of this elusive individual. One story seems of special significance: about Afonso, an Amazon boatman, who could be the last speaker of his mother tongue, a language of apparently unique simplicity and precision. Bernát and Naomi are not, however, the only storytellers here. Naomi’s sister, Kate, is herself working on a novel that begins as a ghost story, but ends up as something rather different: The river is the river.
Jonathan Buckley has written a marvellously absorbing novel that is both an account of the relationship between sisters Kate and Naomi and, with the lightest of touches, a disquisition on the nature of storytelling itself. . . From a very rich, enfolding narrative (we are) forced to think about all the work of memory and language that goes to create the illusion of “real lives”. Engrossing at every level.”THE GUARDIAN
“Jonathan Buckley’s intensely compassionate, astoundingly observed novels unfold with exquisite power, and The river is the river is perhaps his most perfectly written book yet. The surprise of its haunting ending makes other plot twists look like childish games.”JAMES MCCONNACHIE, EDITOR THE AUTHOR
“A quietly brilliant writer, almost eccentric in his craftsmanship.”THE SUNDAY TIMES