Strange Bodies Paperback
Nicholas Slopen has been dead for months. So when a man claiming to be Nicholas turns up to visit an old girlfriend, deception seems the only possible motive.
Yet nothing can make him change his story. From the secure unit of a notorious psychiatric hospital, he begins to tell his tale: an account of attempted forgery that draws the reader towards an extraordinary truth - a metaphysical conspiracy that lies on the other side of madness and death.
Strange Bodies takes the reader on a dizzying speculative journey that poses questions about identity, authenticity, and what it means to be truly human.
- Format: Paperback
- Pages: 384 pages
- Publisher: Faber & Faber
- Publication Date: 06/03/2014
- Category: Modern & contemporary fiction (post c 1945)
- ISBN: 9780571279807
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Review by iansales
Theroux’s 2009 novel Far North was shortlisted for the Clarke Award, so I read it… and I wasn’t much impressed. So I’m not sure what possessed me to give Strange Bodies a go – yes, people recommended it, and the premise sounded interesting, but… Anyway, I’m glad I did. If the plot doesn’t quite match the striking opening, the journey to the end is at least a damn sight better than you’d get from a typical genre novel. A man who apparently died a couple of years before, and in fact in no way resembles the dead man, contacts an old friend, who is persuaded of his claimed identity. Later she finds a thumb drive, containing the document which forms the bulk of the novel – which proves to be the history of a man, a Samuel Johnson scholar, who was asked by a media mogul to authenticate some letters and finds himself caught up in a secret Soviet experiment based on the Common Task (I’ve read up on Fedorov for a WIP, so I knew exactly what this referred to). The scientific scaffolding for the central premise was a little hard to swallow, but all the stuff wrapped around it was very good indeed. I thought the Johnson scholarship very clever, and the way Theroux handled the premise good. Despite my feelings about Far North, I am, much like several other people, surprised this never made any award shortlists.