A Year in Reading: Kirby Gann


As the “A Year in Reading” series continues, I asked Kirby Gann, author of Our Napoleon in Rags, to share with us the best book he read all year. Here’s what he said:After thinking over what books I read this past year that have stayed with me, I think I’d have to choose A Void by Georges Perec as my best “discovery” of the year. It’s one of the most cleverly effusive novels I’ve ever read, full of virtuosity, linguistic energy (in both the original and the translation), and unique invention. A metaphysical detective story bursting with plots and sub-plots, it tells the story of the disappearance of a man named Anton Vowl. Interestingly enough, it manages to do so without ever using the letter “e,” and yet the prose never feels forced or labored in order to accomplish that lack.The novel is a dazzling display of what a limiting structure can do toward firing the imagination, much like poetic forms such as the sonnet and ghazal do for poets. Usually I don’t go for “game” novels, but this one impressed me greatly.Thanks Kirby!