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Perec, Georges

paris novels

(French, 1936–82)

Georges Perec was born in Paris to a family of Polish Jews, and both his parents were killed during the Second World War, his father on active service in 1940, his mother in a concentration camp in 1943. These experiences were the subject of W, or the Memory of Childhood (1975), but Perec's most celebrated work is Life: A User's Manual (1978), an ingeniously linked series of stories set in a Paris apartment-block. The extreme forms taken by Perec's novels are almost legendary, as in A Void (La Disparition, 1969), a novel written entirely without the use of the letter ‘e’. Unlike many experimental novels, Perec's books remain highly accessible and readable, and his vivid descriptions of ordinary lives are full of humour and warmth. Species of Spaces (1997) brings together shorter pieces from Perec's whole career.

Italo Calvino, Michel Tournier  WB

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