The Annual Banquet of the Gravediggers’ Guild by Mathias Enard - review by Lucy Dale

Lucy Dale

A Drink with Death

The Annual Banquet of the Gravediggers’ Guild

By

Fitzcarraldo 496pp £16.99 order from our bookshop
 

Nothing lasts. This seems to be the central theme of Mathias Enard’s expansive new novel. Or perhaps it would be more accurate to say that nothing stays the same: everything changes, faith declines, customs die out and whole epochs disappear into the ground. Existence is a continual cycle of death and rebirth in which the same souls reappear over and over again, unaware of their earlier forms and existences, yet touched and even condemned by them. Nothing lasts, yet it is these metamorphoses that provide connections across time and space. We will all take our place on the shoulders of the gravediggers, and we will do so more than once. 

Heavily influenced by Buddhist theology, The Annual Banquet of the Gravediggers’ Guild consists of an astonishing collection of narratives woven into a single, miraculously comprehensible tale set in and around the tiny village of La Pierre-Saint-Christophe in western France. The novel is bookended by the ‘field diary’ of David Mazon,

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