A startling debut novel from a South African poet

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OK, Mr Field. By Katharine Kilalea.Tim Duggan Books; 208 pages; $21. Faber & Faber; £12.99. 

WHEN Max Field, a failing British concert pianist, breaks his wrist in a train accident, he tries out a new life. He buys a replica Le Corbusier house in Cape Town that was, according to the estranged wife of its architect, intended only as a modernist holiday home. After Max moves there with his wife Mim, his life seems to deteriorate further. Out of this simple premise emerges a dazzling debut novel.

Katharine Kilalea is a poet who grew up in South Africa and has worked in an architecture practice. All these experiences inform “OK, Mr Field”, whether through her luminous use of language, her descriptions of Cape Town or her understanding of how space can be constricting and expansive, vertiginous and comforting, at the same time. Details are observed intimately, like pin-pricks. The muscles around the eyes of Hannah…Continue reading

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