Life: A User's Manual, by Georges Perec (Harvill, £6.99 in UK).

 

First published in France to immediate acclaim in 1978 and equally successful on its English language publication in 1987, this is an ingenious jigsaw puzzle of a novel. The late Georges Perec (1936-82) was a consummate literary technician and true original, although delighting in echoing earlier masters - Joyce in particular. Joyce saw the universality of life contained in a city; Perec further compressed the microcosm by exploring all life as lived by the residents of a Parisian apartment building. This remarkably entertaining, elegant, precise and humane novel is a vast storehouse of stories, personal histories, hilarious digressions, catalogues intellectual games spot the references, hide and seek, and much more. Above all, it is a A perfectly executed Joycean novel had to come - here it is.