Mahajan-articleInline Review here of a brilliant novel by a friend of ours here at 3QD, Rana Dasgupta. Truly an original work…

Most people die before they can witness the historical consequences of their actions. Ulrich, the 100-year-old Bulgarian man at the center of Rana Dasgupta’s new novel, “Solo,” is an exception: he is so ancient he lives in a state of perpetual, dazed aftermath. Once the manager of a chemical factory for the Communists, he watches as Bulgaria’s rivers start oozing familiar poisons: “Like all his compatriots, Ulrich had become chemical himself, his blood a solution of cadmium, lead, zinc and copper.” Soon after, Communism falls, multiplying the pointlessness of Ulrich’s life. The first half of “Solo” is a swift retelling of Bulgarian history through Ulrich’s many failures. When this story ends, we are abruptly introduced to Ulrich’s “Daydreams” — his “private fictions” that “have sustained him from one day to the next, even as the world itself has become nonsense.” But these so-called dreams are in fact the ultramodern and well-researched tales of three young Eastern European characters trying to make it big in New York in the 2000s. They are only glancingly fabulist and tenuously linked to Ulrich’s experiences. “Solo” bills itself as a novel, but it is really two distinct novellas held together by the author’s interest in Bulgaria and Georgia.

more from Karan Mahajan at the NYT here.