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Book review - Scarlett Thomas - The end of mr. Y

Updated on February 5, 2010

Scarlett Thomas has written a brilliant novel. It was published in 2006, but still a great and timeless read. Scarlett Thomas was born in London in 1972. She has written several novels to date, but this has to be her best one so far. In 2001 she was put on the list of the UK’s 20 best young writers, by the ‘Independent on Sunday’. She is now teaching English Literature and Creative Writing at the University of Kent.

The book is about Ariel Manto. She is a Ph.D. student, writing her paper on thought experiments. She is especially interested in Thomas Lumas, an eccentric Victorian scientist. He died mysteriously after writing the book ‘The end of Mr. Y’, and so has anyone else who has ever read it. One day Ariel accidentally stumbles upon the book in a second-hand bookshop, even though it is supposed to be practically extinct. She does not hesitate to buy it. Back home, despite the alleged curse, she decides to read it. And then her life changes in every possible way.

Scarlett Thomas - The end of mr. Y

The book effortlessly deals with many philosophical theories and thought experiments, but manages not to drown in them. Ariel Manto is a very interesting and somewhat unusual character. She has a fresh perspective on life, on the people around her, and on sex. Her mother believed in Aliens and never had time for her. So now her life revolves around self-destructive behaviour, smoking, drinking, and researching obscure 19th century writers and philosophers. Meanwhile she is still hoping her academic mentor professor Burlem, who disappeared a year ago, will come back and tutor her again. As she carries on her affair with another, married, professor she starts to develop curious feelings for someone else. But right now, the most important thing in her life is the book ‘The end of Mr. Y’ by Thomas Lumas.

Slowly the book turns your world upside down, and makes you reconsider your beliefs and your reality. I finished reading this book within two days. It is just impossible to put down. It draws you in, into the curious world of Ariel Manto, of Thomas Lumas and Mr. Y. And especially Lumas’s and Mr. Y world are beyond anything you could have imagined. Scarlett Thomas wrote this book very cleverly. Everything fits, even though she weaves in many scientific and philosophical theories. She knows her stuff, very well I might add. But at no time will this book bore you. It will keep you on your toes, making you think about life and existence, reality and different dimensions. The genre of the book eludes me, it is a clever mixture of fantasy, philosophy, thriller, and novel. But it is not too important. The important thing is that you simply have to read this book.

Other books by Scarlett Thomas


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