Piranesi (Susanna Clarke)

Piranesi is the second novel by Susanna Clarke.
Finished on: 9.1.2021

Piranesi lives in the House. The House is endless and it provides everything he needs. The tides bring him fish, the statues that are present in every room bring him wonder. Twice a week, Piranesi meets The Other – the only other human who lives in the House, as far as Piranesi knows, and he has explored much of the House. Piranesi keeps meticulous records of his explorations, always looking for truth and knowledge. But the truth may be different form what he expects.

Piranesi is a strange, beautiful, weird, engrossing novel that gives us a bit of a mindfuck in very unexpected ways. I loved it and can only recommend that you go in knowing as little as possible about it. It will be worth it, I promise.

The book cover showing the drawing of a satyr on a pedestal surrounded by waves.

Clarke took some time writing her second novel. I can understand that – after Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell expectations (mine and I’m sure other people’s as well) were high and it’s always hard to follow a strong first novel. But with her, it absolutely paid off. Piranesi is absolutely fantastic. (I do hope her third novel will come sooner, but if she delivers one this excellent novel every 15 years, I will take it, too.)

I didn’t know what I was in for with Piranesi and that is just as it should be. At the beginning that is disorienting, of course, but as you peel back layer after layer of the mystery, things become clearer (albeit not less strange) and it’s the discovery that makes the book so beautiful. And even when it is confusing, it is always engaging and beautifully written. This sentence alone gave me goosebumps whenever it appeared.

The Beauty of the House is immeasurable; its Kindness infinite.

It’s not a very long book, but it is not a quick read – you do have to work for it a little. But it is packed so tightly, it feels like you read a major 1000 page epic. It is full of a strangeness and a sense of wonder that is hard to come by. (On a sidenote: I also marveled at Piranesi’s record keeping skills. I thought I was rather thorough (I mean, look at this blog), but he easily outdoes me.)

I can go on and on about how fantastic it is. But you should just read it and see for yourself.

Summarizing: wondrous.

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