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The Mark and the Void: A Novel Hardcover – October 20, 2015
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“Paul Murray has produced a comic classic that cements his status as one of the most gifted novelists of his generation . . . The Mark and the Void is a funny, angry, and unputdownable novel.” ―Huston Gilmore, Daily Express
“The Mark and the Void is Murray's best book yet-a wildly ambitious novel and a scabrously funny yet deeply humane satire on the continuing fallout of the biggest financial crisis in seventy-five years.” ―The Bookseller
“With The Mark and the Void, Paul Murray has done the impossible: he's written a novel about international finance that not only isn't dense, boring, or annoyingly didactic, but is, in fact, a hilarious page-turner with a beating human heart that nonetheless provides real insight into the ongoing economic crisis. To put all of these elements in a pot and alchemically produce something so brilliant and cohesively constructed, one might assume Paul Murray is a witch. I think he's simply a great writer.” ―Adam Wilson, author of Flatscreen and What’s Important Is Feeling
“People always tell me, 'If you love Paul Murray so much, why don't you marry him?' Now thanks to recent legislation in his native Ireland, I finally can. And so should you, reader. The Mark and the Void not only monetizes the death of the novel, but makes us believe in its resurrection. Praise the Lord for Paul Murray's big brain and tender heart.” ―Gary Shteyngart, author of Little Failure
“[The Mark and the Void] is utterly original and very funny.” ―Anna Carey, The Irish Times
“Darkly comic . . . thoughtful and entertaining. [Murray's] creative energy sends the book in many directions . . . but the same may be said of Dickens, with whom [he] also shares wit, sympathy, and a purposeful sense of mischief.” ―Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
“[The Mark and the Void's] successes are serious and impressive. Fans of Skippy Dies and Murray's first novel, An Evening of Long Goodbyes, will not be surprised to hear that it is very funny . . . But there is profundity beyond the laughter, not least in the book's depiction of the bleak emptying-out of a country. Rainswept plazas, crumbling Celtic Tiger penthouses, tottering banks surrounded by protestors dressed up as zombies.” ―Alex Clark, The Guardian
“Murray's 2010 novel Skippy Dies earned the Irishman worldwide acclaim as a writer enviably adept at both raucous humor and bittersweet truth. His new novel, perhaps the funniest thing to come out of the Irish economic collapse, follows Claude, a low-level bank employee who, while his employers drive the country steadily towards ruin, falls in with a struggling novelist intent on making Claude's life worthy of telling.” ―The Millions, “Most Anticipated” Fall 2015 book preview
About the Author
Paul Murray was born in 1975. He studied English literature at Trinity College in Dublin and creative writing at the University of East Anglia. His first novel, An Evening of Long Goodbyes, was short-listed for the Whitbread Prize in 2003 and was nominated for the Kerry Irish Fiction Award. His second novel, Skippy Dies, was short-listed for a 2010 Costa Book Award and long-listed for the 2010 Man Booker Prize, was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award, and was ranked number three in Time's ten best books of 2010.
Top customer reviews
It’s a book about finances…and the arts. It’s a tragedy…and a comedy. It’s about taking risks…and playing it safe. And, in turns, it’s serious and imaginative…and utterly messy and ridiculous.
Here, in essence, is the plot: a solitary French banker named Claude is working in Dublin for the Bank of Torabundo, an investment bank that prudently navigated the market crash and – because no deed goes unpunished – is now headed by a conscience-free new boss who chastises his employees for not taking enough chances. His doppelganger is a washed-up writer named Paul who approaches him with a concept: he wants to write about the life of an Everyman and has chosen Claude as his subject.
On the surface, these two men have little in common, but in truth, they are both “driven by the same urge to escape. The writer hides behind failure just as the banker hides behind wealth. They have lost faith in the world, and in themselves.” In some ways, they personify the book’s title: the push-pull between leaving your mark in the world and facing the void that is covered up with our doings. “The void comes from inside us, from deep inside us. And the more we try to escape it, the more we turn the world into a mirror. Of that emptiness.”
Had Paul Murray fully embraced that theme, this book would have been a six-star read. But the book begins detouring in all sorts of other directions. Claude is inexplicably drawn to Paul; it takes him far too long to figure out what he’s all about (the reader can sense what he’s about almost right away) and when he does, he still seeks him out like a moth to a flame. There are subplots galore: Paul’s infatuation with a (of course) stunningly beautiful Greek waitress named Ariadne and his Cyrano scheme to win her love. There’s a shadowy ex-KGB guy named Igor, a strip club, the lure of an exotic island, a website called myhotswaitress, a narcissistic best-selling writer, an online book review site (where you can give ratings of thistles or lightning bolts) and a proposed art heist of a painting called – no surprise – La Marque et Le Vide.
It’s a testimony to Paul Murray’s writing that through all these twists and turns, I hung on tight, always wanting to read on, never wanting to abandon ship. When he’s satirizing the banking system, he’s razor-sharp and – dare I say it – entertaining. At the end of the day, I’m left with wondering: how can a novel with so many flaws be so darn good?
The beginning is a bit tough and the entire book was not as funny as Skippy or An evening of long goodbyes. I also had a very hard time believing that Claude could put up with so much of Paul's lies and manipulation. How is a guy who is smart enough to work for a bank so easily manipulated by this phony writer and how can he continue to help him time and time again after Paul keeps ripping him off. It's not as if Claude is a drug addict dependent on what Paul is selling. Claude is also so terrible socially that I have a hard time believing he could be in the banking world. He is not ugly or pathetic, he is smart and has a well paying job and is an adult. He should be able to talk to a girl. OK OK I know to read a novel you need to sometimes accept that unbelievable things will happen but it seems a bit over the top.
I really enjoyed how Murray deals with the banking system. After reading many a book on the financial crisis it is easy to think of those in finance as scum. There are definitely some scummy characters who use and abuse the system in this book but there are also good characters who want to stop that sort of thing and feel powerless or are pushed down by forces who won't allow them to.
Overall a good novel by an author I was hoping would have another great book. As always Murray has a great knack for writing, he writes very well and is still easy to read.
This novel is laugh out loud funny. The writing is fast, clever, insightful. Profound insights are given; yet it is never a pedantic presentation. I did not want this novel to end. One becomes invested in all the characters. Those people around Claude and Paul all have genuine stories. This work made me understand the banking crisis. Like many I have been a victim of the avarice of the banks; I never truly understood "the ripple down effect." I only know I am still suffering. Paul Murray is a magnificent writer. Having read his first two novels and completely loved each; I only wait impatiently for more magnificent writing.
Good writing, good plot, and it had me laughing out loud at times. I will definitely seek out other books from Paul Murray.
(FWIW, I save 5 stars for life-changing books, so 4 stars is an excellent score.)
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