Georges Perec, the celebrated author of Life A User's Manual
(Godine, 1987), was working on this "literary thriller" at the time
of his death. He had completed only 11 chapters of a planned 28,
but left extensive drafts and notes supplying the rest of the
mystery, as well as numerous twists and subplots. From these, Harry
Mathews and Jacques Roubaud have assembled the elements of the
unfinished mystery, along the way providing a fascinating view into
the author's mind as he fashioned his literary conundrum.
Absorbing, allusive, and joyously playful, "53 Days" is the
ultimate detective story. The narrator, a teacher in a tropical
French colony, is trying to track down the famous crime-writer
Robert Serval, who has mysteriously disappeared. Serval has left
behind the manuscript of his last, unfinished novel, which may
contain clues to his fate. From this beginning, Perec lures the
reader into a labyrinth of mirror-stories whose solutions can only
be glimpsed before they in turn recede around the corner.
In the tradition of Agatha Christie's And Then There Were None,
Perec's "53 Days" is a supremely satisfying, engrossing, and truly
original mystery. Like his previous work, it is also "a
kaleidoscope of ingenious juxtapositions" (Le Monde) from one of
the century's most inventive and important writers.
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