Thursday, 9 April 2009


I've written before in praise of Eleanor Catton's short stories. Now comes the welcome opportunity to sample her debut novel. This extract from The Rehearsal appears on the newly relaunched website of Granta, who will be publishing the book in the UK in July.

It is a vivid, multi-layered creation, a performance in every sense of the word. By combining intense theatricality with the raw emotions and experiences of her teenage protagonists, Catton appears to be doing something truly extraordinary with the novel form. For me, the writing has more in common with the drama of Pirandello or Beckett than a work of prose fiction. I'm thinking in particular of Six Characters in Search of an Author. But this is no mere exercise in style: the novel's ingenious framework is there to serve a purpose, not to be noticed or admired for its own sake.

On this evidence Catton has a compelling tale, or tales, to tell in The Rehearsal, and I for one am impatient to read more.

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