The story of a man walking down a ramp, After Absalon is the culmination of Simon Okotie’s extraordinary trilogy of novels. Marguerite, a down-at-heel detective, is on the trail of Harold Absalon, the Mayor’s transport advisor, who is missing presumed dead. Encountering a woman in a tight-fitting pinstriped suit entering a pedestrian underpass, he decides to follow her. Pursued in turn, and seemingly losing his mind, the choice he faces is impossible yet unavoidable: does he bring his investigation to a successful conclusion and risk befalling the exact same fate as Harold Absalon?
‘Okotie’s protagonist, Marguerite, is an investigator (of some kind) charged (by someone) with following the wife of Harold Absalon after the disappearance (perhaps) of her husband. Hardly a nail-biting procedural, the action such as it is goes no further than up and down in an elevator and onto a bus—a timespan of a few minutes, at most. It’s a marvel of compression, not in the manner of Jean Echenoz and others who strip the detective novel down to its bones, but by taking a few minor, even meaningless moments of a larger investigation and exploding them to the point of rewarding absurdity.’ —Necessary Fiction
‘… charming and fresh; indeed, the only recent comparable fiction would be Will Self’s Booker-shortlisted Umbrella, which also features a prolonged, digressive sequence set on a London bus. Simon Okotie’s book will receive less attention, but it is equally audacious, and in its own, low-key way, just as compelling.’ —David Evans, Financial Times
‘There is a danger that Okotie will not reach the readers he deserves, and that those who do pick up the book, attracted magpie-ishly by its McCall-Smithesque blurb and brightly coloured cover, will be left feeling baffled and annoyed. There will be others, however, who will see the ambition, originality, thoughtfulness and, crucially, the humanity in Simon Okotie’s writing, and in Absalon the making of a modern classic.’ —Adam Biles, 3:AM Magazine
‘Nicholas Lezard’s Choice This is literature as insanity, the mind stuck in an endless loop – focused, it would appear, too closely on the job at hand. The detective story as existential crisis took form with Beckett’s Molloy more than 60 years ago; and the concept of the novel as crazed digression was first incarnated in Tristram Shandy, over 250 years ago. Okotie is in very good company – and has also set himself a high bar. He succeeds. Superbly.’ —Nicholas Lezard, The Guardian
‘Okotie’s labyrinthine syntax and meandering thought loops bring to mind the works of David Foster Wallace and Nicholson Baker; but the clearest nod is to Samuel Beckett’s Watt. Delightfully eccentric … brilliantly funny.’ —Houman Barekat, The Spectator