Book of the Week: Dublinesque by Enrique Vila-Matas

Dublinesque by Enrique Vila-Matas is our new Book of the Week.


‘He belongs to an increasingly rare breed of sophisticated, literary publishers. And every day, since the beginning of this century, he has watched in despair the spectacle of the noble branch of his trade – publishers who still read and who have always been drawn to literature – gradually, surreptitiously dying out.’

So reads our introduction to Samuel Riba – sixty-years-old, ex-literary publisher, sufferer of numerous anxiety attacks and the lead character in Enrique Vila-Matas’s latest masterpiece, Dublinesque.

Described as a ‘a fictional journey through the modern history of literary publishing’, Dublinesque is everything you would expect of a Vila-Matas novel - witty, poignant and knowingly referential what many might feel is a dying world of print and literary art.

Now retired and having given up alcohol to boot, Riba goes through the motions of daily life until, one night, he has a vivid dream of Dublin, full of passion and despair, death and the printing press. Unable to let go of this vision, he decides to journey to the city of Joyce’s Ulysses, along with three writers, and hold a funeral for the book and ‘The Gutenberg Age’.

It’s there, in Dublin, that Riba notices that he’s being followed by a man who looks uncannily like a young Samuel Beckett - and here his obsession switches yet again to this stranger, who he feels could be the genius offering both him and his artform true redemption.

Our reviewer, Nicole Mansour, observed:

‘… Enrique Vila-Matas is the master of the non-novel. Like his other translated work, in particular Bartleby & Co and Never Any End to Paris, his latest novel, Dublinesque, is an exquisitely original book, one that showcases his talents for irony, paradox and parody, as well as his unique blending of fact and fiction.’

Dublinesque is out now in paperback ($24.95)