And at the same time Jovert has been contacted by a woman claiming to be his daughter, born to him in Algeria after he had left the country, where he did secret work during the time of French colonial rule. And there are a number of women who impinge on Jovert's life.
All these stories are woven together like a Japanese jigsaw. "They are the so-called himitsu-e puzzles, puzzles so cunningly made that they either have an infinite number of solutions or solutions which are mutually contradictory." (p 44) This tapestry made with simple threads of haiku-like simplicity.
Of English jigsaw puzzles:
- "No matter where you start ... you always end up in the same place. And you always know beforehand." (p 46)
- "There's another way of looking at it ... it doesn't matter where you start, if you keep going, you will always find completion. What is important is that you start." (p 46)
Other memorable lines:
- "If you want power over people, you have to go inside them, find out what they are afraid of. Be them." (pp 84 - 85)
- "You-are-just-a-footnote, he said. A footnote. To-my-life. You-are-a-nothing, a zero, a meaningless cipher. He spat the words out. You're what happens when history blinks. Don't you see? You don't exist. Except as a function of me." (p 145)
- "How many times have they sat on the terrace at night looking down at the jewelled city, or in the darkness of the lit garden, listening to the frogs, the slow tock, tock, tock of the water clock, the strings of a shamisen?" (p 192) I love the contradiction in the darkness of the lit garden.
A strange but compelling story. March 2018; 400 pages