Whose stories deserve to be told? And whose words should do the telling?
In Felix Culpa, Jeremy Gavron conjures up a work of extraordinary literary alchemy: a novel made out of lines taken from a hundred great works of literature.
It follows a writer on the trail of a boy recently released from prison, who has been discovered dead in the cold north, frozen and alone. But in searching for the boy’s story, will he lose his own?
Magical and moving, Felix Culpa is a living demonstration of how storytelling works, by sound and by rhythm, by elision and by omission, as well as by reference and by allusion. It asks what happens when we lose the narrative of our own life, and fall into someone else’s.
In its "sources", a gripping atmosphere is often conjured by what we're not clearly told ... Like a Hannah Hoch piece, Felix Culpa uses collage with impressive purpose.' -- Cal Revely-Calder * The Daily Telegraph * `Felix Culpa does succeed as a diverting experiment, thanks to Gavron's talent for coaxing a subtle, individual rhythm out of his affectionate patchwork.' * The Big Issue * 'Gavron is essentially a Mary Shelley of words: he seeks to galvanise old sentences, the members of all stories, with new life, in a new body made of the severed parts of many others.' -- Mika Provata-Carlone * Bookanista * `[The Book of Israel] has that quality of inevitability all fine writing contains. Within a few pages the reader knows that Jeremy Gavron has found a structure that is his own and effortlessly unique. Innovative and engrossing.' -- Arnold Wesker on the The Book of Israel * The Guardian * `I'm very much in awe of Jeremy Gavron. His daunting and completely extraordinary novel-come-social history deftly excavates one single London street, the East End's Brick Lane, but in such depth and with such empathy and gusto that it leaves you breathless. Here, you feel, is an imagination that has let rip. The chapters - and their subjects, which range from people to plants, from mammoths to buildings - feel like random, bloody slices gouged straight from the whole shuddering raft of history. So, for that matter, does the prose. Gavron bounces from immigrant Jews a century or more ago, through to more recent Bangladeshis, Huguenots, soldiers, medieval nuns - and I don't think I've ever read such a ventriloquism of diverse styles so dazzlingly and successfully combined in the course of a single novel ... Gavron doesn't stop at people and animals either. Mosses and liverworts that have unfurled on this patch of land are touchingly catalogued - and the further back in time the writer trawls, the more urgent his stories seem to become ... I felt as though I'd swallowed a time drug - its exactly the effect of all these contrasts, the cumulative magic of the trip the author takes you on that leaves you so moved. Here, in fact, is the best sort of living museum - a novel of imagination and daring whose pages precisely convey the romance of that dizzying idea that lurks at the heart of all history.' -- Julie Myerson on An Acre of Barren Ground * The Guardian * `Clever, witty, tender, droll - this remarkable book offers up quite the most extraordinary confection of delights that I have come across in years.' -- Simon Winchester on An Acre of Barren Ground `The most original novel I've read for some years. It is a masterpiece of both research and imagination and deserves to put Jeremy Gavron among the front rank of contemporary writers. The weaving of fiction and non-fiction, and the short story with the written and graphic novel, almost heralds the arrival of a new genre; historical-contemporary graphic docu-fiction perhaps. Whatever you want to label it, it is a remarkable achievement, and unlike anything you will have read before. I thoroughly recommend it - for once a novel actually deserves the accolade "unique".' -- Tim Lott on An Acre of Barren Ground `Jeremy Gavron's astonishing book, An Acre of Barren Ground, is one of a handful of novels that I must return to and re-read about once a year.' -- Maggie O'Farrell on An Acre of Barren Ground 'Perhaps [Gavron's] boldest experiment yet.' * Monocle24's 'The Monocle Weekly' * 'Gavron's singular approach nudges his narrative towards the universal.' -- Stoddard Martin * Jewish Chronicle * `One of our more innovative, quietly inventive and exciting novelists.' -- Ali Smith * TLS * '[An] extraordinary work of fictional alchemy' * Mariella Frostrup, BBC Radio 4's 'Open Book' * '[Gavron merges] detective story, mythic romance and medieval quest into a short, affecting parable for modern times ... It would be easy to become overly aware of the novel's self-conscious form, but Gavron is too subtle and skilful for that.' * Financial Times * `Felix Culpa is extraordinary: a wild, beautiful book which patchworks tiny scraps of other novels to create something haunting, resonant and absolutely original.' -- Olivia Laing, author of The Lonely City 'Felix Culpa is a brilliantly eccentric accomplishment - one that is difficult, on a single reading, fully to appreciate - and it raises fascinating questions about authorship, plagiarism, and textual integrity ... Felix Culpa's ingenious appropriations bring the dead to life and offer the living a parallel existence in very good company.' * TLS *