"53 Days": A Novel

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David R. Godine Publisher, 1992 - Fiction - 258 pages
3 Reviews
Georges Perec, the celebrated author of Life A User's Manual (Godine, 1987), was working on this "literary thriller" at the time of his death. He had completed only 11 chapters of a planned 28, but left extensive drafts and notes supplying the rest of the mystery, as well as numerous twists and subplots. From these, Harry Mathews and Jacques Roubaud have assembled the elements of the unfinished mystery, along the way providing a fascinating view into the author's mind as he fashioned his literary conundrum.

Absorbing, allusive, and joyously playful, "53 Days" is the ultimate detective story. The narrator, a teacher in a tropical French colony, is trying to track down the famous crime-writer Robert Serval, who has mysteriously disappeared. Serval has left behind the manuscript of his last, unfinished novel, which may contain clues to his fate. From this beginning, Perec lures the reader into a labyrinth of mirror-stories whose solutions can only be glimpsed before they in turn recede around the corner.

In the tradition of Agatha Christie's And Then There Were None, Perec's "53 Days" is a supremely satisfying, engrossing, and truly original mystery. Like his previous work, it is also "a kaleidoscope of ingenious juxtapositions" (Le Monde) from one of the century's most inventive and important writers.

  

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Review: 53 Days

User Review  - Lily - Goodreads

53 Days is a mystery about mysteries. Fictional novels are referenced and play a central role in solving the multifaceted crime. The author himself died in the midst of writing this novel, which is ... Read full review

Review: 53 Days

User Review  - Iwokeinrelief - Goodreads

A fitting final work for one of my favorite writers of the last 50 years. I'm going to discuss the structure of the novel for a moment mostly because it goes a long way to show just what makes this ... Read full review

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About the author (1992)

George Perec was born in Paris on March 7, 1936 and was educated in Claude-Bernard and Geoffroy-Saint-Hilaire. Perec was a parachutist in the French Military before he began publishing his writing in magazines like Partisans. Perec also wrote the book, Life: A Users Manual. Perec is noted for his constrained writing: his 300-page novel La disparition (1969) is a lipogram, written without ever using the letter "e". Georges Perec died on March 3, 1982.

Born in New York in 1930, Harry Mathews settled in Europe in 1952 and has since then lived in Spain, Germany, Italy, and (chiefly) France. When Mathews published his first poems in 1956, he was associated with the so-called New York School of poets, with three of whom (John Ashbery, Kenneth Koch, and James Schuyler) he founded the review Locus Solus in 1961. Through his friendship with Georges Perec, he became a member of the Oulipo in 1972. The author of six novels and several collections of poetry, recent publications are THE NEW TOURISM (Sand Paper Press, 2010), Sainte Catherine, a novella written in French (Editions P.O.L, 2000), The Human Country: the Collected Short Stories (Dalkey Archive Press, 2002), The Case of the Persevering Maltese: Collected Essays (Dalkey Archive Press, 2003), OULIPO COMPENDIUM (co-edited with Alastair Brotchie; Atlas Press and Make Now Press, 2005), and My Life in CIA: A Chronicle of 1973 (Dalkey Archive Press, 2005).

Jacques Roubaud, born in 1932, has been a professor of mathematics at the University of Paris X Nanterre. He is one of the most accomplished members of the Oulipo, the workshop for experimental literature founded by Raymond Queneau and Francois Le Lionnais. He is the author of numerous books of prose, theatre and poetry.

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