How to Paint a Dead Man by Sarah Hall, longlisted for the Man Booker Prize 2009.
Sarah Hall was born in Cumbria in 1974 and now lives and works there. Her first novel, Haweswater, was published by Faber in 2002. Her second, The Electric Michelangelo, was shortlisted for the Booker Prize in 2004. In 2007 Sarah won the John Llewellyn Rhys Prize.
Stunning visual descriptions link the stories of four artists in crisis in Hall's fourth novel (after Daughters of the North), but marginal, cross-generational relationships are what ground the book. Giorgio is a well-known painter and hermit in Italy in the 1960s, the near-blind Annette his favorite primary school student. Peter is a 50-something landscape artist in England, and Peter's daughter, Susan, a talented photographer and curator. Giorgio has cancer and for his final days tackles one last painting of his constant subject, colored bottles. Soon after his death, Annette tends his grave, innocent and fearful and now completely blind, fearing imaginary things like the Bestia-a demon that is depicted in her church. Thirty years later, Peter, who corresponded with Giorgio, is pinned under a boulder near his cottage, and contemplates the haunting relationship he had with his ex-wife, while in present-day London, Susan searches for feeling (through sex) after the sudden loss of her twin brother. Hall gracefully conveys a sense of the eternal through these imaginative, disconnected creatures who share the same unrelentingly contemplative disposition. (Sept.) Copyright 2009 Reed Business Information.
"In this gorgeous still life of a book, Sarah Hall gives us four lives...each narrated in a different voice...Hall has a poet's gift, and this novel is best enjoyed as a prose poem whose blindingly beautiful insights gradually accrue...She has made visible to us...the ever-present shadow of eternity."--Washington Post Book World