NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF 2022 by the New Yorker, Publishers Weekly, The Financial Times, Words Without Borders
A highly-acclaimed master work of fiction from Cărtărescu, author of Blinding: an existence (and eventually a cosmos) created by forking paths.
Based on Cărtărescu’s own role as a high school teacher, Solenoid begins with the mundane details of a diarist’s life and quickly spirals into a philosophical account of life, history, philosophy, and mathematics. One character asks another: when you rush into the burning building, will you save the newborn or the artwork? On a broad scale, the novel’s investigations of other universes, dimensions, and timelines reconcile the realms of life and art.
The novel is grounded in the reality of late 1970s/early 1980s Communist Romania, including long lines for groceries, the absurdities of the education system, and the misery of family life. The text includes sequences in a tuberculosis sanatorium, an encounter with an anti-death protest movement, a society of dream investigators, and an extended visit to the miniscule world of dust mites living on a microscope slide.
Combining fiction with autobiography and history– the scientists Nicolae Tesla and George Boole, for example, appear alongside the Voynich manuscript–Solenoid ruminates on the exchanges possible between the alternate dimensions of life and art, as various, monstrous dimensions erupt within the Communist present.