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This is a collection of stories about the altering landscape of the mind and the landscape of place. The stories are set in diverse locations, France, Russia, New York, Indonesia and the island of Java. In each setting – the steaming humidity of the Javanese jungle, the claustrophobia of the New York subway, the chill of Moscow in winter – lives unfold in stories of emotional intensity and sometimes shocking outcomes.
The characters in these stories are in complex situations that draw the reader in and explore the nature of what it means to be human; our capacity for good, evil, strength and weakness.
Mangeot’s writing shifts effortlessly between the haunting rhythms of the near poetic to fast sharp-edged dialogue. His capacity to conjure a strong sense of place is at times redolent of Maugham and Hemingway. If you like writing that is authentic, unexpected and imbued with the scent of distant places and people living out their stories there then this collection will not disappoint you.
‘One of the protagonists in A Little Javanese is Jorge, a UN official in Honduras who aspires to be a "big writer." He wants to be a writer who "never lost sight of the detail but went somehow beyond it." In this collection, Mangeot achieves what his character aspires to: building up dazzling, perfectly realised worlds that reach beyond their circumstances. He intertwines the personal and the political with terrific skill, as in Ambition, a story set in Moscow in the Eighties, where a young ski jumper falls in love amid the onset of Gorbachev's perestroika. This is a fantastic collection: ambitious, moving and beautifully written.’ —Joe Dunthorne
‘With a meticulous sense of place, André Mangeot presents a series of characters caught between worlds, on the cusp of change, between life and death. His stories are gripping and atmospheric, full of impending doom and unexpected redemptions.’ —Sarah Bower