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The Tesseractby Alex Garland
Synopses & Reviews
The Tesseract takes place in the Philippines and follows three sets of characters whose fates are intertwined in a deadly chase that is set in motion through a misunderstanding.
Sean is an inexperienced British merchant seaman waiting to keep an appointment with a Filipino mafia lord and his henchmen in a seedy Manila hotel. Meanwhile, in the suburbs a mother puts her children to bed and remembers her first love on the backwater island where she grew up, and a wealthy psychologist studies the dreams of a couple of abandoned street kids, who are drawn into the wake of the gangsters' chase.
The Tesseract is a story of personal tragedies that occur for no comprehensible reason, and investigates the ways in which we explain them, whether through religion, myth, psychology, or science. It balances science against religion, and our wills against our fates, asking the elusive question of how we can make sense of events in a world where meaning lies beyond our grasp.
"What really makes The Tesseract so gripping is the author's dazzling performance as a storyteller — not the bloody climaxes per se but the innovative techniques and deft changes of pace with which they are related....
"[The Tesseract] feels...like a Quentin Tarantino or John Woo movie, seasoned with some Graham Greene. It is as thoroughly assured a performance as The Beach and just as violently entertaining....Mr. Garland is a natural at orchestrating violent set pieces with deadpan panache, but he also proves in this novel that he can create odd, oddly sympathetic people with unexpected inner lives....[The novel] reconfirms his prodigious and diverse talents." Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times
"Although Garland's allusions to super-symmetry and tesseracts are far-fetched, the reader will come away impressed by his sense of place and his unique storytelling, which combines a brisk, complex plot with an ability to get into the souls and skins of people." Publishers Weekly
"[P]ointlessly elaborate....This very simple story is complicated as much as possible in the telling — but for no apparent reason....Tedious, convoluted, pompous. Garland's narration is so oblique that his story doesn't even begin to cohere until the very last chapter — which, it must be said, does little to justify the effort of reading him." Kirkus Reviews
"[T]hese four stories...make up the dimensions of the 'tesseract' (a four-dimensional analogue of a cube), which itself unravels as the stories and characters converge in a shocking ending. This is one of the most structurally complex noir novels ever written and perhaps the only one ever set in the Philippines." Frank Caso, Booklist
"The Tesseract is just an evening's read and seems less substantial than The Beach, but it exerts the same unsettling grip on your imagination." Brad Stone, Newsweek
"Garland is a gifted storyteller whose use of language is reminiscent of Graham Greene's. His ambitious second novel is like the charm carried by one of its characters: at once consoling and intoxicatingly alien." The New Yorker
"Riveting....The Tesseract offers myriad secret pleasures beyond its seemingly plot-driven narrative of intrigue in the streets of Manila." The San Francisco Chronicle Book Review
"[T]here are only two hackneyed phrases that fit The Tesseract: Interesting failure. Sophomore slump....[It] substitutes lots of self-conscious flourishes and posturing for a coherent plot and firmly rooted characters. Even the novel's obscure title annoys the reader." Deirdre Donahue, USA Today
"Garland achieves a sort of narrative origami, whereby space and time are folded back on themselves to create a four-dimensional figure — the tesseract — making the book fascinating and somewhat maddening." Nick Meyer, New York Magazine
"[I]ntriguing and intricate....Fast-paced, suspenseful, and thought-provoking, this is top-drawer fiction and highly recommended..." Library Journal
"Garland's second novel, following his riviting debut, The Beach, has convinced me that he is the best thirtyish writer in English today." The Missouri Review
An intricately woven, suspenseful novel of psychological and political intrigue, The Tesseract follows the interlocking fates of three sets of characters in the Philippines: gangsters in a chase through the streets of Manila; a middle-class mother putting her children to bed in the suburbs and remembering her first love; and a couple of street kids and the wealthy psychiatrist who is studying their dreams. Alex Garland demonstrates the range of his extraordinary talents as a novelist in this national bestseller, a Chinese puzzle of a novel about three intersecting sets of characters in the Philippines.
Set in the Philippines, this Chinese puzzle of a novel, written by the author of "The Beach, " spans three generations, following the stories of three sets of characters whose fates are intertwined.
About the Author
Alex Garland was born in London, England, in 1970. In 1987 he went to India on a six week trip to Kashmir and Ladahk. After leaving school, he spent six months in Southeast Asia, and he has returned every year since, most frequently to the Philippines.
In 1992, Garland received a B.A. in History of Art at Manchester University in England. He occasionally works as an illustrator and freelance journalist. He started writing fiction not out of compulsion, but as an anxious response to the careers that his friends were carving out for themselves.
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