The Singularities

Knopf. Oct. 2022. 320p. ISBN 9780525655176. $30. F
A central tenet of quantum physics and postmodernism is that people’s perception alters the objectivity of observation. Banville’s writing has always played with this notion, with characters constantly grappling to understand the complexity of knowing oneself. Here, Freddie Montgomery, the loquacious murderer from Banville’s 1998 novel, The Book of Evidence, is released from prison and finds lodging at his childhood home. Seemingly in a dissociative state of guilt and remorse, Montgomery finds himself ensnared in the family drama of the Godleys, the kin of Adam Godley (the mathematician from Banville’s 2009 novel, The Infinities, who postulated the theory of the multiverse). Searching for the meaning of existence and the consequences of their actions, the characters find themselves interrogating a world with no boundaries and no end. Science postulates that singularity happens at the center of a black hole, resulting in an unpredictable breakdown in space-time.
VERDICT Banville’s poetical fiction explores the implications of the theory of singularity through the human perception of memory, loss, and guilt, even as he slyly braids together characters and themes from his past novels into a meta-narrative about the haunting implications of parallel universes.
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