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This novel gives one pause to question just about everything we take for granted about ourselves; in other words, it's the best sort of novel. Just think about how utterly fascinating and unnerving it would be to receive letters decades later from your three best childhood friends recounting shared memories. That's what happens here as three friends each write letters to David, now an amnesia victim (though he could be faking it--it's that kind of book), in hopes that their words will jog his memory. I identified with the first narrator to a painfully uncanny degree, so it was rather shocking to read the subsequent narrators' accounts, as they disparaged him as well as one another in one way or another. In the end, I felt a connection with each narrator, flawed though they all were--in fact, maybe because of their flaws. This novel speaks to the vast distinction between how we perceive ourselves and how we are perceived by others, to the impossibility of truly knowing another person, or even oneself. This is one of the most amazingly original and utterly captivating novels I've read in recent years. It just kind of blew me away.— From Jeanne's Picks
The brilliant first novel in the Encircling Trilogy, a searing psychological portrait of a man by his friends
David has lost his memory. When a newspaper ad asks his friends and family to share their memories of him, three respond: Jon, his closest friend; Silje, his teenage girlfriend; and Arvid, his estranged stepfather. Their letters reveal David's early life in the small town of Namsos, full of teenage rebellion, the uncertainties of first love, and intense experiments in art and music.
As the narrative circles ever closer to David, the letters interweave with scenes from the present day, and it becomes less and less clear what to believe. Jon's and Silje's adult lives have run aground on thwarted ambition and failed intimacy, and Arvid has had a lonely struggle with cancer. Each has suspect motives for writing, and soon a contradictory picture of David emerges. Whose remembrance of him is right? Or do they all hold some fragment of the truth?
Carl Frode Tiller's masterful opening novel to the Encircling Trilogy won the European Prize for Literature, the English PEN Award, and the Hunger Prize. Encircling, with David as its brooding central enigma, confronts the relativity of memory in an audacious and daring novel that reveals the shape of a life and leaves us wanting more.