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Gaspard Winckler, master forger, is trapped in a basement studio on the outskirts of Paris, with his paymaster’s blood on his hands. The motive for this murder? A perversion of artistic ambition. After a lifetime lived in the shadows, he has strayed too close to the sun.

Fittingly for such an enigmatic writer, Portrait of a Man is both Perec’s first novel and his last. Frustrated in his efforts to find a publisher, he put it aside, telling a friend: “I’ll go back to it in ten years when it’ll turn into a masterpiece, or else I’ll wait in my grave until one of my faithful exegetes comes across it in an old trunk.”

An apt coda to one of the brightest literary careers of the twentieth century, it is – in the words of David Bellos, the “faithful exegete” who brought it to light – “connected by a hundred threads to every part of the literary universe that Perec went on to create – but it’s not like anything else that he wrote”.

Reviews

Fascinating
Steven Poole, Guardian
Virtuosic in execution and not merely a curiosity for scholars . . . Unlike anything else that Perec wrote and yet it is the most welcome sum of the many parts of his rare art
Eileen Battersby, Irish Times
Intellectually rewarding - and essential for anyone remotely interested in this most original of writers
David Mills, The Times
Portrait of a Man has the feel of uncovered treasure, but it is a finished and finely crafted work, full of invention. It also adds significantly to our picture of Perec himself
Billy O'Callaghan, Irish Examiner