The antihero of Sebastian Faulks’s new novel is a pub-crawling, aesthetically The narrator, Mike Engleby, begins his long apologia with an. Narrated in the first person by the main character, Mike Engleby, Faulks’s seventh novel is modern, demotic and funny – albeit in a deep shade of black. It’s hard. Engleby has ratings and reviews. Jeff said: Bestselling British author Sebastian Faulks reinvents the unreliable narrator with his singular, haunting.

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A past and present that don’t add up

But these are more or less allayed as the narrative regains its balance, and after an obscure hiatus Engleby emerges – plausibly enough, given his trade as a journalist – as a Zelig-like figure in the public life of Britain in the s. The product of a poverty-stricken, working-class background—beaten by his father and cruelly tormented by schoolmates—Engleby earns a place for himself at Cambridge during the early s where he lurks on the edges of social intercourse, spending most of his time obsessing over a young woman he first notices in a tea room of the University Library.

Everything is beneath him. So many times I nearly gave up on it and only carried on because of having to discuss sebaastian at my book club. This is a great book, despite the narrative awkwardness that shows up in the end.

I was, thankfully, wrong. He has no sex life that we know of, though he is happy to share what seems an idiot savant’s knowledge of contemporary prog rock and now-forgotten cigarette brands. I find myself unable to say a lot about it, because I’ve now recommended it to several people, and the things I find that I’d like to discuss would spoil the plot too much.

The character is captured fantastically in the narration, there’s a remarkable intellectual energy about it with constant reference to history and literature and science.

Engleby – Wikipedia

Despite this he goes to an Oxbridge university, where he fails to make any fiends. The exhilaration from reading this book is due to Sebastian Falks ability to match the tonality and rhythm of his prose exactly to the complexity of his lead character and the carefully unfolding, layered plot.


As he grows up, finding a job and even a girlfriend in London, Engley only becomes more and more detached from those around him in an almost anti-coming-of-age. After his successes with Birdsong and Charlotte Gray, superior sagas of love, trench foot and French peasantry, Sebastian Faulks these days seems determined not to mention the war. The unsolved mystery haunts him as memories return and his sanity is unclear. And the tiny part of us that’s different—the special Homo sapiens bit—is faulty.

Within the grand design of his narrative themes, Engleby’s systematising nature allows Faulks the opportunity for bravura flourishes of s period detail – the drugs, the music, the fngleby excesses of pre-Murdoch newspaper printers, the serpentine convolutions of suburban sebasfian, and so on.

The inside of an outsider’s mind

Want to Read Currently Reading Read. Engleby is set in the s and 80s and gives a first-person account of the life of Mike Eengleby, a very intelligent loner and outsider. He politely goes along with people around him, while privately holding them in contempt. He adds that he also may have murdered a German woman called Gudrun Abendroth in London and had attacked Baynes while at Chatfield, causing injuries, then thought to be accidental, which contributed to Baynes’ premature death some time later.

For a character so grounded in his dislike of society, Faulks gives him exactly the background society expects him to have. To be honest, I had never heard of Sebastian Faulks but there was something in the introductory paragraph – a mixture of matter-of-factness and gr My taste in contemporary fiction tends towards authors – Coetzee, Saramago, Barrico, DeLillo, Gustafsson, Murakami, Oshiguro – that master the art of meshing the darkly epic, the philosophically profound and the mildly surrealist into a compelling literary edifice.

The sections towards the end of the book, when his friend Stellings is describing him in a police statement is also incredibly sad – one of the few times we actually get to see Mike as others see him. Much like Dickens, notably in David Copperfield and Great Expectations, Sebastian Faulks’s protagonist adopts different names for his persona over the course of the novel.


Jan 17, Karlan rated it really liked it Shelves: Engleby surname of said protagonist is revealed page by page to the reader, who feels a little puzzled about this character.

And, as ever, the attention to detail is absolutely convincing. Emotionally detached, superbly gifted as an observer and intellectually ruthless he is able to shed a cold, piercing light on the machinations of evil. When we, the readers, realise the extent to which we have been conned, it only serves to focus even more sharply on the characterisation envleby novel so aptly draws.

He has some sort of a psychological zebastian, possibly of an autistic variety. I find myself unable to s This was a really compelling read. No trivia or quizzes yet. At the same time he is gripped by nostalgia for a notional past of ‘authentic’ Englishness. Get the best at Telegraph Puzzles.

He is infatuated with a girl named Jennifer Arkland, whose name he only discovered on posters advertising her running for a society committee. Who would have thought that an ex-Cambridge graduate looking back over his complex life and recounting ragged and random encounters of it, c My time is stretched, but I want to try to review at least one book a week. Jun 27, James Vaulks rated it really liked it.

The inside of an outsider’s mind – Telegraph

There is a short rant about the Iraq war at the end that takes the stance that everyone already knows and embraces. Hardcoverpages.

The trouble is that this story only requires a few hundred words yet somehow Faulks manages to ssbastian it out for an entire novel.

And he constantly displays the sort of judicious wit one has come to expect from newspaper columns by, for example, Sebastian Faulks.