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Painting Time: A Novel (Hardcover)

Painting Time: A Novel Cover Image
By Maylis de Kerangal, Jessica Moore (Translated by)
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Painting Time is an enchanted, atmospheric, high aesthetic coming-of-age novel exploring the apprenticeship of a young female painter named Paula, who resolutely chooses the demands of craft over the abstraction of high art as she masters the exacting process of trompe-l’oeil painting. What begins as Paula’s personal story expands by the end to a brilliant philosophical study of the origins of human art, an extensive, intimate contemplation of the creative process and what it means to be an artist. This stunning, dazzling “portrait of the artist as a young woman” is deeply reflective, richly evocative, and suffused with joy—as the author “paints” with her words, illustrating the incantatory power of language, there is an almost touchable physicality to the sensuous, luxuriant, luminous vocabulary, making the novel a sensory adventure. I liked the book’s structure, with its omniscient, streaming narration, its page-long sentences and paragraphs, where dialogue is embedded inside each paragraph, without breaks or quotation marks (her six-page, one-paragraph-long description of a stone quarry is breathtaking!). This story of imitation and imagination, with Paula moving from Paris to Moscow to Rome’s Cinecitta film studio, to the grand finale at the Lascaux Caves, is totally exhilarating. Completely immersed in this book, I found myself reading slower and slower to take it all in, and I felt joyous and uplifted after finishing it! What a magnificent achievement, my favorite novel of the year! Ed loved and highly recommends!  

— Ed

Description


Named a most anticipated book of 2021 by The Guardian | The Millions

An aesthetic and existential coming-of-age novel exploring the apprenticeship of a young female painter

In Maylis de Kerangal’s Painting Time, we are introduced to the burgeoning young artist Paula Karst, who is enrolled at the famous Institut de Peinture in Brussels. Unlike the friends she makes at school, Paula strives to understand the specifics of what she’s painting—replicating a wood’s essence or a marble’s wear requires method, technique, and talent, she finds, but also something else: craftsmanship. She resolutely chooses the painstaking demands of craft over the abstraction of high art.

With the attention of a documentary filmmaker, de Kerangal follows Paula’s apprenticeship, punctuated by brushstrokes, hard work, sleepless nights, sore muscles, and long, festive evenings. After completing her studies at the Institute, Paula continues to practice her art in Paris, in Moscow, then in Italy on the sets of great films, all as if rehearsing for a grand finale: a job working on Lascaux IV, a facsimile reproduction of the world’s most famous paleolithic cave art and the apotheosis of human cultural expression.

An enchanted, atmospheric, and highly aesthetic coming-of-age novel, Painting Time is an intimate and unsparing exploration of craft, inspiration, and the contours of the contemporary art world. As she did in her acclaimed novels The Heart and The Cook, Maylis de Kerangal unravels a tightly wound professional world to reveal the beauty within.

About the Author


Maylis de Kerangal is the author of several books in French, including Naissance d’un pont, (published in English as Birth of a Bridge), which won of the Prix Franz Hessel and Prix Médicis in 2010; Réparer les vivants, which won the Grand Prix RTL-Lire and the Student Choice Novel of the Year from France Culture and Télérama and whose English translation, The Heart, was one of the Wall Street Journal’s Ten Best Fiction Works of 2016 and the winner of the 2017 Wellcome Book Prize; and Un chemin de tables, whose English translation, The Cook, was a New York Times Book Review Editors’ Choice. She lives in Paris.

Praise For…


"There is something magnificently true about De Kerangal’s fiction, which braids technical fluency with winged prose . . . 'Capsules of pure sensation'–it’s a description worth stealing to describe this novel, which is strung together image by beautiful image. This is writing that defies haste, that slows the eye . . . That [De Kerangal's] new novel's painterly resonances feel elemental, rather than effortful, cements her reputation as one of contemporary fiction’s most gifted sentence builders." —Beejay Silcox, The Guardian

"[Decorative painting] is given a thrilling treatment in Maylis de Kerangal’s [Painting Time] . . . Who else writes with such poetry about the tools of trade, and the intricacies of work? Michael Ondaatje springs to mind, but Maylis de Kerangal is mining a rich and individual seam." —Jonathan Gibbs, Times Literary Supplement

"Celebrated French novelist Kerangal . . . is a master of the metaphysical bildungsroman . . . [An] enthralling tale of vocation, discovery, and love . . . Kerangal balances the gloriously sensuous with the deeply reflective in an exquisite and omniscient streaming narration as she explores the title's implications . . . Kerangal’s elegant, sexy, subtly Proustian, and fluidly dimensional drama of discipline and passion, imitation and imagination is resplendently evocative and exhilarating." —Donna Seaman, Booklist

"As she did with The Cook, award-winning French author de Kerangal offers stunning portraiture suffused with the joy and meaning of work. . .There's only one word for it: superbe." Library Journal (starred review)

"[A] sensuous, language–relishing, richly evocative new work . . . A curiosity as introspective, finely wrought, and devotedly crafted as the art form it traces." Kirkus Reviews

Product Details
ISBN: 9780374211929
ISBN-10: 0374211922
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Publication Date: April 20th, 2021
Pages: 240
Language: English
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