The Echo Chamber
By Luke Williams
(Viking Adult, Hardcover, 9780670022830, 384pp.)
Publication Date: August 4, 2011
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An evocative and exquisitely written debut novel about family, empire and money.
Impressive in its scope and ambition, this first novel is at once a family saga, a book that reimagines the myth of the empire, and a history of objects. The Echo Chamber is narrated by fifty-four- year-old Evie Steppman, who grew up in Nigeria in the 1950s during the last decade of British rule. As a child, Evie exhibited extraordinarily acute powers of hearing; now, alone in an attic in Scotland that is filled with objects from her past and with her powers of hearing starting to fade, she sets out to record her history before it all disintegrates into a meaningless din. Tales of the twelfth-century mapmaker in Palermo, stories whispered by embittered expatriates, and eyewitness accounts from Nigeria's civil war mingle with Evie's memories of her childhood, of her grandfather, a watchmaker who attempted to forge a mechanical likeness of his dead wife, and of her travels across America. Williams's interest in history and storytelling and his talent for evoking multiple voices will remind readers of the work of David Mitchell, Peter Carey, and Jonathan Safran Foer.
Luke Williams was born in 1977. He grew up in Fife, Scotland, and now divides his time between Edinburgh and London. The Echo Chamber is his first novel.