x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Mind-bending and unique

Sergio de la Pava's latest novel involves a psychic detective, an empty apartment and a 300-year-old corpse. With its tangents on theology and philosophy, it may not make its way onto everyone's must-read list.

Fresh from the success of his award-winning debut A Naked Singularity, Sergio de la Pava’s latest novel is a mind-bending psychological drama with a theological twist, mixing the metaphysical with a tongue-in-cheek stab at philosophy. If the description isn’t enough to make one’s head woozy with the promised volume of its intellect, Personae caps off at 200 pages, making it all the more potent.

The main arc of the story centres on Detective Helen Tame, a psychic investigator (a job description with implications subject to scrutiny by her colleagues) working on unravelling the cause of death behind a corpse found in an otherwise empty apartment. The catch? John Doe happens to be more than 300 years old. De la Pava’s passion for existential tangents in his storytelling is obvious and his narrative refuses to run along straight lines; crime detection is followed by a short story and then a play.

Personae, with all its analytical meanderings and occasional parody of its own content, may not find a place on everyone’s shelf. Still, as a unique work of literary fiction, de la Pava’s ingenuity, original style and intellect are beyond doubt.