The Illumination by Kevin Brockmeier - review by David Annand

David Annand

Bright Lights, Big Ulcer

The Illumination


Jonathan Cape 272pp £16.99 order from our bookshop

Magic realists need stoical characters. They should be the kind that will accept a metaphorical device – a talking dog, a break in the space–time continuum – and quickly get on with life as it was before, allowing the metaphor to do its work without its existence being constantly questioned. (It’s a wonder there isn’t a greater tradition of setting such novels in Britain; keeping calm and carrying on is exactly what’s required in these situations.)

Handily for Kevin Brockmeier his characters have this quality in spades. In his previous novel, The Brief History of the Dead, the bulk of the characters are drawn from a metropolitan afterlife populated by those still present in the memory of the living. Despite this bizarre new existence

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