A City in Ten Chapters
By Sam Thompson
Bloomsbury Publishing PLC, Hardcover, 9781620401651, 279pp.
Publication Date: December 3, 2013
Each of us conjures our own city, one of many incarnations; a place throbbing with so many layers, meanings, and hidden corners cannot be the same for any two citizens.
"Communion Town" calls to mind David Mitchell's "Ghostwritten," Italo Calvino's "Invisible Cities," and China Mieville's "The City & The City," but is uniquely its own. This incandescent novel maps an imaginary city and explores the lives of its outcasts and scapegoats. Each chapter is told from the perspective of a different citizen-defining the city itself as a character, both protagonist and antagonist-and each is told in a different genre, from a hardboiled detective story to steampunk to gothic horror, displaying the great range of Sam Thompson's literary ability. As the novel unfolds in different neighborhoods, we encounter a lovelorn folksinger, a repressed detective, a slaughterhouse worker, a lost tourist, a bon vivant, and a ghost. From their lonely voices we gather the many-faceted story of the city: a place imagined differently by each citizen as he or she searches for connection, transformation, or escape.
“Dazzling debut…What Communion Town renders with stunning and often heartbreaking lucidity is the complexity of consciousness itself…[Thompson] is a writer of almost freakish range . . . an elegant and hauntingly beautiful book – as expansive as a Greek chorus and as intimate as a memory.” —New York Times Book Review
“Each chapter in the novel, longlisted for the 2012 Man Booker Prize, is told by a different character, in a different genre. And each unspools like a pitch-perfect improvisation.” —New York Times