C: Book summary and reviews of C by Tom McCarthy

C

by Tom McCarthy

C by Tom McCarthy X
C by Tom McCarthy
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  • Published Sep 2010
    320 pages
    Genre: Literary Fiction

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Book Summary

The acclaimed author of Remainder, which Zadie Smith hailed as 'one of the great English novels of the past ten years,' gives us his most spectacularly inventive novel yet.

Opening in England at the turn of the twentieth century, C is the story of a boy named Serge Carrefax, whose father spends his time experimenting with wireless communication while running a school for deaf children. Serge grows up amid the noise and silence with his brilliant but troubled older sister, Sophie: an intense sibling relationship that stays with him as he heads off into an equally troubled larger world.

After a fling with a nurse at a Bohemian spa, Serge serves in World War I as a radio operator for reconnaissance planes. When his plane is shot down, Serge is taken to a German prison camp, from which he escapes. Back in London, he’s recruited for a mission to Cairo on behalf of the shadowy Empire Wireless Chain. All of which eventually carries Serge to a fitful—and perhaps fateful—climax at the bottom of an Egyptian tomb ...

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Starred Review. Ambitious readers will be eager to revisit this endlessly interpretive world, while more casual readers will marvel at the high-flying picaresque perched at the crossroads of science and the stuff dreams are made of." - Publishers Weekly

Recommended for those who read extensively in literary fiction or are devoted to Thomas Pynchon's brand of maximalism ... be warned: C is not as entertaining as Pynchon's works." - Library Journal

"Despite the book’s historical setting, Tom McCarthy has written a novel for our times: refreshingly different, intellectually acute and strikingly enjoyable. Whether the Man Booker judges concur remains to be seen, but it seems highly unlikely that anyone will publish a better novel this year." - The Daily Telegraph (UK), Stuart Evers

"The near-Joycean scale and density of all this is truly impressive, as is McCarthy's ability to fold it into a cleanly constructed narrative, which has its boring stretches but also moments of humour and weird beauty. Yet its mind-blowingness as a reading experience depends on the reader's appetite for certain types of analysis. Armed with various concepts from Heidegger, Freud or Paul Virilio, say, it would be possible to unpick its implications more or less indefinitely, but there's a dispiriting feeling that the book has been reverse-engineered with an eye to achieving just that." - The Guardian (UK), Christopher Tayler

"The novel asks to be decoded, and I’m sure many readers will enjoy transcribing its impressionistic dots and dashes and noting, for example, the instances of the letter C and the similarity between the words “Serge” and “surge”. The jacket copy helpfully points that out, and mentions something called “electric modernity”, but what does that mean for us today? This novel should find a way of framing the big questions, but instead seems only to frame itself." - Financial Times (UK), Scarlett Thomas

"As will, I think, be obvious, I had a whale of a time with this book, propped on my laptop, Wikipedia open in one window and in another, the OED. It was like being a guest at the dream-party of an extremely well-read host: things read a long time ago and more or less forgotten, things never read that I always meant to, things I certainly will read now, having seen how McCarthy can make them work." - The London Review of Books, Jenny Turner

"In creating a work that recycles itself and our culture, McCarthy has produced something truly original." - The Washington Post, Samantha Hunt

"C is coming-of-age as philosophy, philosophy as fiction, fiction as "dummy-chamber" ("the real thing's beyond") — the novel as encrypted code for life." - The Los Angeles Times, Meehan Crist

This information about C was first featured in "The BookBrowse Review" - BookBrowse's membership magazine, and in our weekly "Publishing This Week" newsletter. Publication information is for the USA, and (unless stated otherwise) represents the first print edition. The reviews are necessarily limited to those that were available to us ahead of publication. If you are the publisher or author and feel that they do not properly reflect the range of media opinion now available, send us a message with the mainstream reviews that you would like to see added.

Any "Author Information" displayed below reflects the author's biography at the time this particular book was published.

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Author Information

Tom McCarthy

Tom McCarthy was born in 1969 and lives in London. He is known in the art world for the reports, manifestos, and media interventions he has made as General Secretary of the International Necronautical Society (INS), a semi-fictitious avant-garde network. His previous books are Remainder and Tintin and the Secret of Literature.

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