Come and discuss Will Self’s most ambitious novel to date with Will and his editor at the offices of Bloomsbury Publishing in Bedford Square.
Umbrella takes up the challenge of Modernism by going back to the source – the industrial madness of World War One, weaving together a dense tapestry of consciousness and lived life across an entire century.
Maverick psychiatrist Zack Busner arrives at Friern Hospital, a vast Victorian mental asylum in North London, under a professional and a marital cloud. He has every intention of avoiding controversy, but then he encounters Audrey Death, a working-class girl from Fulham born in 1890 who has been immured in Friern for decades.
A socialist, a feminist and a munitions worker at the Woolwich Arsenal, Audrey fell victim to the encephalitis lethargica sleeping sickness epidemic at the end of the First World War and, like one of the subjects in Oliver Sacks’ Awakenings, has been in a coma ever since. Realising that Audrey is just one of a number of post-encephalitics scattered throughout the asylum, Busner becomes involved in an attempt to bring them back to life – with wholly unforeseen consequences.
Radical in its conception, uncompromising in its style, Umbrella is Will Self's most extravagant and imaginative exercise in speculative fiction to date.
Advance praise for Umbrella:
‘In these culturally straitened times few writers would have the artistic effrontery to offer us a novel as daring, exuberant and richly dense as Umbrella. Will Self has carried the Modernist challenge into the twenty-first century, and worked a wonder.’ John Banville
Tickets for the Intelligence Squared Bloomsbury Book Club cost £25 for individual events and include a copy of the hardback book posted to your home. For details of season membership please contact Claire Daly at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 0207 631 5717.
Date: Thursday 4th October
Time: Drinks 6pm, Talk 6.30pm
Place: Bloomsbury Publishing, 50 Bedford Square, London, WC1B 3DP
Cost: £25 (including the book)