Friday, June 08, 2007

Pg. 99: Tony Eprile's "The Persistence of Memory"

Today's feature at the Page 99 Test: Tony Eprile's The Persistence of Memory.

About the book, from the publisher's website:
In this humane yet savagely witty portrait of apartheid South Africa in its waning years, Tony Eprile renders his homeland's turbulent past with striking clarity. The Baltimore Sun declared Eprile's "horrifying yet heartrendingly beautiful" prose to be "comparable to his fellow authors of Apartheid Andre Brink and Nadine Gordimer." As the novel builds to a harrowing conclusion, the protagonist, a veteran of the secret war in Angola and Namibia, is forced to appear before the Truth and Reconciliation Committee with astonishing results. Nobel Prize-winning author J. M. Coetzee calls The Persistence of Memory "a story of coming to maturity in South Africa in the bad old days. Always warm-hearted, sometimes comic, ultimately damning."
Among the praise for The Persistence of Memory:
"Rarely are the psychological incidents of life brought to readers with such cinematic vividness."
--Howard Norman

"Always warm-hearted, sometimes comic, ultimately damning."
--J. M. Coetzee

"I was enthralled by [Eprile's] gorgeous prose ... and ... by the fiercely comic gift of his unforgettable, and unforgetting, narrator."
--Margot Livesey

"Charged with a shining imagination, The Persistence of Memory is reflective of everything that it meets up with, at once capacious and finely honed. Think Laurence Sterne meets Proust meets the antic, dissembling spirit of Stanley Elkin."
--Daphne Merkin, Los Angeles Times

"It is exhilarating to see some of its well-worn tricks -- the unreliable narrator, the fable-like conceit, the learned digression -- deployed with such intensity and made so relevant to the bigger picture. Eprile, himself a South African now living in the United States, has written a novel that is not just clever but also a passionate fictional attempt to wake from a nightmare of historical complicity."
--Theo Tait, New York Times Book Review

"A richly imagined novel of growing up, its political revelations leavened by absurdist humor and social satire."
--Frances Taliaferro, Washington Post
Tony Eprile is also the author of Temporary Sojourner and Other South African Stories, which was a New York Times Notable Book of the Year. The Persistence of Memory, which won the Koret Jewish Book Award, was a New York Times Notable Book of the Year, and was listed as a best book of 2004 by the Washington Post and the Los Angeles Times.

The Page 99 Test: The Persistence of Memory.

--Marshal Zeringue