The recently discovered first novel by the world famous author of Life: A User's Manual and A Void
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".
Fascinating - 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 - Irish Times
Intellectually rewarding - and essential for anyone remotely interested in this most original of writers - The Times
Portrait of a Man has the feel of uncovered treasure, but it is a finished a finely crafted work, full of invention. It also adds significantly to our picture of Perec himself - Irish Examiner
Georges Perec, born 1936, decided to be a writer at around the age of eighteen, but had a day job as a librarian in a medical research laboratory for most of his adult life. He made his first impact in 1965 with a barely fictional portrait of his own generation, Things. Shortly after, he joined Oulipo, the experimental "workshop" for mathematics and literature founded by Raymond Queneau and Francois Le Lionnais, of which he became the most ardent and celebrated doyen. He is the author of A Void, a novel written without the letter "e", of the semi-autobiographical W or The Memory of Childhood, and, most famously, of Life A User's Manual, hailed by Italo Calvino as "the last real 'event' in the history of the novel so far". He lived in Paris, and died of lung cancer in 1982. Portrait of a Man, written in 1960, remained unpublished in French until 2012. publication.