Two people meet on a train: the young man is imagining a novel, and
imagining the life of the young woman. A waiter rushes out to find a girl
he fancied who hasn't paid her bill, only to find a diary in which their
fictitious flirtation is anatomised. But the story actually begins with a
man taking a leak after making love to his wife. He has the inklings of a
novel, but thoughts will keep intruding, with all their seductive
possibilities. The man on the train is living in an England that has
decided, with characteristic diffidence and lack of fuss, that it no longer
wants to live under a totalitarian regime which has lasted for 40 years. I
say totalitarian, but think more of Brazil, a world of terribly genial
tyranny, where officialdom tries so hard to be accommodating. And Duncan
has another story, one prompted by the memory of his father's car crashing
down a slope. As with all good postmodernist novels, the endless
digressions are more soothing than jarring. Murrough O'Brien in The
Independent on Sunday The strikingly inventive structure of this novel
allows the author to explore the similarities between fictions and history.
At any point, there are infinite possibilities for the way the story, a
life, or the history of the world might progress. The whole work is
enjoyably unpredictable, and poses profound questions about the issues of
motivation, choice and morality. The Sunday Times A writer more
interested in inheriting the mantle of Perec and Kundera than Amis and
Drabble. Like much of the most interesting British fiction around at the
moment, Music, in a Foreign Language is being published in paperback by a
small independent publishing house, giving hope that a tentative but long
overdue counter-attack is being mounted on the indelible conservatism of
the modern English novel.With this novel he has begun his own small stand
against cultural mediocrity, and to set himself up, like his hero, as ' a
refugee from drabness. From tinned peas, and rain.' Jonathan Coe in The

Andrew Crumey—Music, In A Foreign Language

  • 9781873982112