An extraordinary debut novel from an award-winning poet, about poets, plagiarism, love, technology, feuds and affairs, cancellation and revenge, and how writing really does alter reality
'I first heard about Solomon Wiese on a bright, blustery day on the South Bank...'
Later that evening, at the bar of the Travelodge near Waterloo Bridge, our unnamed narrator will encounter that very same Solomon Wiese.
In a conversation that lasts until morning, he will hear Solomon Wiese's story of his spectacular fall from grace.
A story about a scandal that has shaken the literary world and an accusation of serial plagiarism.
A story about childhood encounters with nothingness and a friend's descent into psychosis; about conspiracies and poetry cults; about a love affair with a woman carrying a signpost and the death of an old poet.
A story about a retreat to the East Anglian countryside and plans for a triumphant return to the capital, through the theft of poems, illegal war profits and faked social media accounts - plans in which our unnamed narrator discovers he is obscurely implicated...
A story that will take the entire night - and the remainder of the novel - to tell.
Mordant, torrential, incantatory, Bolano-esque, Perec-ian, and just so explosively written that I had to stop and shake the language-shrapnel from my hair and wipe it off my eyeglasses so I could keep reading.
Full of clever postmodern flourishes, self-referential winks and riotous set pieces. It's funny, smart and beautifully written.
I absolutely adored Dead Souls. Reading it felt like overhearing the most exhilarating, funny, mean conversation imaginable - which is to say it made me extremely happy and I dreaded it ending
Sublime, legendary, delightfully unhinged. Sam Riviere's Dead Souls is a rare and brilliant pleasure, a coiling, searing fugue of a book that takes our deranged culture and pulls forth from it a box of stars
Dead Souls is elegant, ambitious, very serious and very funny - an enlivening burst of anti-anti-intellectualism.
If as I read Sam Riviere's wonderful first novel I discerned intriguing notes of Rachel Cusk's Outline Trilogy and Thomas Bernhard's propulsive monologues, I also found myself thinking with pleasure of the intricate (and hilarious) book-world satire in Italo Calvino's If on a Winter's Night a Traveler. Echoes aside, Dead Souls is its own whip smart, razor sharp, wise-funny, highly readable animal and I can't recommend it enthusiastically enough.
Sam Riviere is the author of the poetry books 81 AUSTERITIES (Faber & Faber, 2012), for which he won the Forward Prize for Best First Collection, and KIM KARDASHIAN'S MARRIAGE (Faber & Faber, 2015), as well as numerous limited-edition titles. Born in Norwich, he currently lives in Edinburgh, where he runs the micropublisher If a Leaf Falls Press.