Synopses & Reviews
"Not writing is always a relief and sometimes a pleasure. Writing about what cannot be written, by contrast, is the devil’s own job."
In this unusual text, a blend of essay, fiction, and literary genealogy, South African novelist Ivan Vladislavic explores the problems and potentials of the fictions he could not bring himself to write.
Drawing from his notebooks of the past twenty years, Vladislavic records here a range of ideas for stories—unsettled accounts, he calls them, or case studies of failure—and examines where they came from and why they eluded him. In the process, he reveals some of the principles that matter to him as a writer, and pays tribute to the writers— such as Walser, Perec, Sterne, and DeLillo—who have been important to him as both a reader and an author. At the heart of the text, like a brightly lit room in a field of debris, stands Vladislavic’s Loss Library itself, the shelves laden with books that have never been written. On the page, Vladislavic tells us, every loss may yet be recovered.
An extraordinary book about both the nature of novels and the process of writing, The Loss Library will appeal to anyone seeking to understand the almost magical and mythical experience of breathing life into a new work of fiction.
"I couldn't resist the allure of Ivan Vladislavic's book of might-have-beens, and now that I've finished it, I am totally charmed by its originality and elegance." Christopher Reid, author of A Scattering and The Song of Lunch
"[A] thought-provoking collection — some of these stories may, indeed, be more successful as failures than if they had been completed. And The Loss Library is also a truly lovely book (as object)." M.A. Orthofer, the Complete Review
"In the tradition of Elias Canetti, a tour de force of the imagination." Andre Brink
"The prose is stunning. It gives the impression of the words and the phrases having been caught from the inside — as though the author lives on the other side of language, where every word is strange and dancing, and the way they are put together produces complicated patterned exchanges like minuets." Tony Morphet
"Ivan Vladislavic writes with a passion about his subjects that incites concision. With the thematic unity he's established, we come to see his assemblage of personal losses as part of wider losses of art throughout history, though he never says so. Thus, this odd book accrues a richness at having covered both personal and historical ground within the territory of the author's mind."
“The Loss Library
is a beautifully made book. Illustrations by Sunandini Bannerjee are tipped into the opening pages of chapters—their distortions, suggestions and incompletions complement the author’s intent and style. There is a sly slightness to the book, an airiness that inspires wonder about the elusive narratives all around us.”
About the Author
Ivan Vladislavic is the author of The Folly
, The Restless Supermarket
, The Exploded View
and Double Negative
Sunandini Banerjee is an editor, translator, and graphic designer who lives and works in Calcutta.
Table of Contents
The Last Walk
The Loss Library
Gravity Addict / 'all of a sudden'
The Cold Storage Club