James Lasdun’s Seven Lies

This post was written by Friday guest blogger Emma Garman.

Seven Lies, the second novel from the frighteningly talented James Lasdun, tells the story of a young man growing up in pre-perestroika East Germany who achieves his most precious dreams — including moving to America and marrying the woman he idolizes — but at terrible cost. Today in the Financial Times Jonathan Derbyshire says:

Readers of Lasdun’s short stories will already be familiar with characters who inhabit their lives as if they were not their own. The Horned Man took that psychic displacement and made it the motor for a terse and beautifully controlled Gothic thriller.

Seven Lies, Lasdun’s second novel, is also fitted out with bits of thriller apparatus. It is better understood as a kind of Bildungsroman, however – a novel about a person’s formative years, albeit one where the narrator feels that his life is something that has fallen “unaccountably” into his possession.

Chloe Shama at The New Republic found that:

The appeal of the novel lies in its ability to interweave the personal and the political and to muddle the conventional divisions between them. Political oppression does not eliminate individuality, Seven Lies seems to say–which may just be the same message that the traditional poet-dissident wants to assert.

You can listen to Lasdun discuss the novel here.


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