Dinah Küng

This is a very lively, ingenious comedy in which Voltaire, the mercurial Enlightenment playwright cum philosopher, haunts the farmhouse outside Geneva of a newly-arrived Swiss-American family. He develops a strong relationship with the mother and as they speak to each other across the centuries the novel deepens into a successful mix of social observation, historical reminiscence and philosophical playfulness set against the burlesque of Swiss village life, as seen through American eyes. Part of the comdy lies in the contrast between the narrator’s American voice and outlook, and Voltaire’s more elegant approach to life.

2004 Shortlist

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