I Am Radar by Reif Larsen - review by James Kidd

James Kidd

Give Us a Wave

I Am Radar


Harvill Secker 672pp £16.99

I Am Radar is a self-aware, globetrotting post-postmodern novel that throws the kitchen sink at its reader. There is war and peace, art and science, love and hatred, librarianship and radio repair. There are characters eerily resembling Reif Larsen who turn out to be fictional but may just as easily be real. The parenthetical plot is suitably improbable but also desperate to convince. Coincidences, repetitions and strange meetings are verified by footnotes, a slippery bibliography and some nicely faded Sebaldian images. This is hysterical realism that tilts at magic but stops at card tricks.

A black baby boy, Radar, is born to (faithful) white parents in New Jersey in the mid-1970s. Seeking an explanation, his mother turns eventually to an avant-garde troupe of Norwegian puppeteers called Kirkenesferda, who claim expertise in radical pigmentation therapy. As the boy sheds his skin, we meet two brothers

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