WINNER OF THE EVERYMAN WODEHOUSE PRIZE 2016
A comic masterpiece about love, art, greed and the banking crisis, from the author of Skippy Dies
What links the Investment Bank of Torabundo, www.myhotswaitress.com (yes, hots with an s, don't ask), an art heist, a novel called For the Love of a Clown, a four-year-old boy named after TV detective Remington Steele, a lonely French banker, a tiny Pacific island, and a pest control business run by an ex-KGB man? You guessed it . . .
The Mark and the Void is Paul Murray's madcap new novel of institutional folly, following the success of his wildly original breakout hit, Skippy Dies. While marooned at his banking job in the bewilderingly damp and insular realm known as Ireland, Claude Martingale is approached by a down-on-his-luck author, Paul, looking for his next great subject. Claude finds that his life gets steadily more exciting under Paul's fictionalizing influence; he even falls in love with a beautiful waitress. But Paul's plan is not what it seems-and neither is Claude's employer, the Bank of Torabundo, which inflates through dodgy takeovers and derivatives-trading until-well, you can probably guess how that shakes out.
The Mark and the Void is a stirring examination of the deceptions carried out in the names of art, love and commerce - and is also probably the funniest novel ever written about a financial crisis.
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
Can a book that deals heavily with the ongoing financial strife of the past decade be funny? The answer is yes, thanks to the cartwheeling imagination of Irish novelist Paul Murray (Skippy Dies). In The Mark and the Void, French banker Claude—who works in the Dublin office of the Bank of Torabundo—is approached by a shady writer named Paul, who wants to write a book about a finance industry Everyman. Murray clearly has strong opinions about multinational banks’ calamitous impact on his hometown, but he channels them into a twisty, madcap story that’s chock full of colourful characters, philosophical wit and touching human drama.
Murray's follow-up to Skippy Dies is a protracted jab at the world of banking, a charming send-up of the financial crisis that is hilariously absent of hope. Claude Martingale is a French migr living in Dublin and working for the Investment Bank of Torabundo. His life is not entertaining. So why does Paul, a novelist (who happens to share the actual author's first name), want to make Claude the everyman protagonist of his next novel? With the approval of bank management, Paul begins to shadow Claude through his typical office work days. But it quickly becomes clear there's more to Paul's interest than he's saying. Add to this intrigue the potential collapse of Ireland's economy, tent cities inhabited by protestors dressed as zombies, and a mad Russian mathematician around whose equations BOT may be structuring its new Structured Products Department, and Murray's latest quickly takes off. Here, again, the author displays much of the quick wit of his popular previous novel, but this effort also boasts a more modernist slant, with ever-blurring lines between art imitating life and life imitating art for the characters. The result is another page-turner with smarts, an absurdist riff on our economic follies, one that leaves the impression that it's all not so far-fetched, after all.