Synopses & Reviews
Bestselling British author Sebastian Faulks reinvents the unreliable narrator with his singular, haunting creation Mike Engleby.
"My name is Mike Engleby, and I'm in my second year at an ancient university."
With that brief introduction we meet one of the most mesmerizing, singular voices in a long tradition of disturbing narrators. Despite his obvious intelligence and compelling voice, it is clear that something about solitary, odd Mike is not quite right. When he becomes fixated on a classmate named Jennifer Arkland and she goes missing, we are left with the looming question: Is Mike Engleby involved? As he grows up, finding a job and even a girlfriend in London, Mike only becomes more and more detached from those around him in an almost anti-coming-of-age. His inability to relate to others and his undependable memory (able to recall countless lines of text yet sometimes incapable of summoning up his own experiences from mere days before) lead the reader down an unclear and often darkly humorous path where one is never completely comfortable or confident about what is true.
Mike Engleby is a chilling and unforgettable character, and Engleby is a novel that will surprise and beguile Sebastian Faulks' readership.
"British bestseller Faulks's latest (after Human Traces) comprises the dark confessional of Mike Engleby, an intelligent but strange university student suspected in a woman's disappearance. His journal-like account of his life, which begins in the turbulent 1970s and extends to 2006, includes day-to-day accounts of college life, pontifications on time, politics and the nature of thought, and flashbacks to his childhood particularly the years he spent as a scholarship student at the exclusive Chatfield, where he was taunted and abused by his classmates (they, among other things, called him Toilet). As the journal progresses, his obsession with university student Jennifer Arkland deepens: he reads her mail, sits in on her classes, joins her political society and becomes involved in her student film. When Jennifer disappears after a party and is presumed dead, Mike finds himself under police investigation. The case remains open for over a decade, and Mike continues on with his life, but Jen is never far from his thoughts, and as he continues to return in his mind to Jen's disappearance, he reveals more about that night and about himself. Though sometimes heavy with the tropes of self-deception and misdirection, this is a compelling psychological portrait of a man who is at once profoundly disturbed and wryly funny. (Sept.)" Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"[T]itillating, ultimately engrossing....Faulks knows exactly how to keep the reader off-balance in this deft, funny, scary combination of suspense and psychic exploration." Kirkus Reviews
"This gripping tour de force is highly recommended." Library Journal
"Sebastian Faulks takes his readers on an unexpected spin." Denver Post
"It's soon clear that Engleby is a most unreliable narrator, and Sebastian Faulks' Engleby little more than a stuffy writing exercise whose supposedly big revelations drop with thudding inevitability. (Grade: B-)" Entertainment Weekly
"Faulks...renders luminous prose, but this time it gets lost amid a rambling tale told by a narcissist with little of consequence to say. A disappointment from a talented writer, but still of interest to Faulks' followers." Booklist
"[C]ompulsively readable yet deeply disturbing....To read Engleby is to be carried in the arms of a master. Engleby's narrative tone seems dispassionate and removed and the story he weaves is much more complex than initially appears." Denver Post
"The novel may be uneven, but Engleby himself funny, fiercely intelligent, unreliable, arrogant and solipsistic is an intriguing, at times mesmerizing creation." San Francisco Chronicle
Bestselling British author Faulks reinvents the unreliable narrator with his singular, haunting creation Mike Engleby, who leads the reader down an unclear and often darkly humorous path where one is never completely comfortable or confident about what is true.
About the Author
Sebastian Faulks worked as a journalist for fourteen years before taking up writing full-time in 1991. In 1995 he was voted "Author of the Year" by the British Book Awards for Birdsong, his fourth novel and his second, following A Fool's Alphabet, to be published in the United States. He is also the author of Human Traces, On Green Dolphin Street, Charlotte Gray, The Fatal Englishman, and The Girl at the Lion d'Or. He lives in London with his wife and three children.