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The Geometer Lobachevsky

By: Adrian Duncan

Publication Date: April 2022

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The Geometer Lobachevsky by Adrian Duncan

In The Geometer Lobachevsky, Duncan follows his interest in internationality and materiality, leading to unforeseeable connections between people and places.

Set in the early 1950s, the story follows Soviet geometer (mathematician) Nikolai Lobachevsky who is a Glav Torf representative aiding Bord na Móna with a land survey. In Ireland on this state visit, he receives a letter from the MGB ordering him back to Leningrad for ‘a special appointment’. Immediately suspicious, he goes into hiding on a small island in the Shannon Estuary where he waits in the hope of some day returning safely home.

Following Duncan’s critically acclaimed Love Notes from a German Building Site (2019), A Sabbatical in Leipzig (2020) and Midfield Dynamo (2021), Duncan’s themes of emigration, displacement and work connect Ireland with the world stage. Colm Tóibín said of Love Notes: ‘Written in spare, exact prose … Duncan writes beautifully about cold weather, gruff manners, systems of hierarchy … A portrait of work [and] a picture of a sensibility’.

PRAISE FOR ADRIAN DUNCAN

‘Adrian Duncan’s arresting new collection of stories consolidates his reputation as one of the most captivating and distinctive voices in contemporary Irish writing.’ MICHAEL CRONIN, IRISH TIMES

Love Notes from a German Building Site is written in spare, exact prose … Duncan writes beautifully about cold weather, gruff manners,
systems of hierarchy. He also writes beautifully about precious time off, or the occasions when memory takes over … the protagonist is
created in this book with an acute and painstaking emotional accuracy.’ COLM TÓIBÍN

‘Precise and penetrating prose … A Sabbatical in Leipzig is a quietly compelling novel from a writer of real daring and poise.’  VONA GROARKE

A Sabbatical in Leipzig is a masterclass in [looking for the extraordinary in the ordinary]: a stunning example of paying attention to the minutest of details and looking at the world with keen eyes and a quiet but curious mind.’ IRISH INDEPENDENT

‘If more men thought and wrote as tenderly and honestly, we’d have stronger, sturdier novels and fewer garish monuments to consumerism.’ DAVID O’CONNOR, THE SUNDAY INDEPENDENT

‘A reflective, beautifully paced novel.’ SARAH GILMARTIN, IRISH TIMES

‘Of course, if you’re as good a writer as Duncan, part of the [publishing] industry may come to reshape itself around you. Long may he continue to write about his obsessions.’ JOHN SELF, IRISH TIMES

‘Duncan appears interested in excising any curlicues or flourishes from his prose until it is a simple, elegant, reflective surface.’ JOHN SELF, THE CRITIC

‘What is most fascinating about Adrian’s writing is his ability to a story from the technical skills he has used as an engineer.’ JESSICA THOMPSON, LONGFORD LEADER

‘A masterful meditation. The Geometer Lobachevsky is another arresting, enigmatic work by one of our most original writers.’ LUKE WARDE, SUNDAY INDEPENDENT

‘The story he tells is a kind of deception, and it is the subtle deceptions of language that are this novel’s true subject … Many have seen the tendency among Irish writers, from Joyce and Beckett up to Eimear McBride, towards experimentation as originating in this sense of foundational linguistic dispossession. With this novel, Duncan proves himself to be one of the most subtle explorers of this condition writing today.’ KEVIN BRAZIL, LITERARY REVIEW

‘The Geometer Lobachevsky is a filmic — if not filmable — work … Engineering and literature, in Duncan’s skilled and sensitive hands, make for quite the couple.’ MATTHEW JANNEY, FINANCIAL TIMES

Listen to Adrian speaking to Seán Rocks on RTÉ Arena here.

Listen to Adrian speaking to Katy Conneely on All About Books, Dublin City FM, here.

a tender, thoughtful, often startlingly beautiful piece of literary fiction … Duncan brings new insight to his trademark preoccupations – men, work, emigration, construction – and explores the desire to create meaning in an unmasterable world. Lobachevsky and Rhatigan are both fascinating characters. But the star of the novel is its unforgettable setting: the strange rocky island, and that shifting, squelchy bog where language slips and fixed ideas fall apart.ALEXANDER WELLS, EXBERLINER

‘a beautifully crafted synthesis of intellectual athleticism and aesthetic originality … Duncan schematises the many overlapping, entwining and diverging systems – organic and mechanical – which structure our reality with both rigor and quiet tenderness. It is required reading for the Anthropocene.’ PÁDRAIG NOLAN, TOTALLY DUBLIN

The peatlands of my youth feel eerie without machinery: a feature by Adrian in the Irish Independent, which can be read here.

‘Duncan’s refusal to make things ‘too easy’, to turn away from the furrow he works towards the rising sun, is what makes his work so unique and essential. Read this book, and all his others.’ CHRIS BEAUSANG

[The Geometer Lobachevsky] sets you thinking afresh about what has gone before … Mathematics – the realm of the geometrician – is precise and orderly; there is, as our teachers used to tell us, only the one right answer. Language is a different, more porous, and more deceptive thing altogether. The Geometer Lobachevsky is quite the literary trick, delivered with precision engineering.’ PAT CARTY, HOT PRESS

‘An atmospheric tableau … artfully arranged and intriguing’ THE GUARDIAN

The Rick O’Shea Book Club pick for June 2022

‘Duncan’s best work yet … [his writing style] has the capacity to deliver a gut-punching blow … It’s the kind of book that makes you remember why you read. It challenges but doesn’t ostracise. Its style is authentic, never affected. Duncan’s current readers will already be well aware of his talents, but he ought to have a great many more.’ NIAMH DONNELLY, SUNDAY BUSINESS POST

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Adrian Duncan was born in County Longford and originally trained as an engineer. He is a Berlin-based visual artist and filmmaker. His short fictions have appeared in literary journals both in Ireland and the USA. His acclaimed debut novel, Love Notes from a German Building Site, published by Lilliput and Head of Zeus in 2019. He was shortlisted for the Emerging Writer Award at the inaugural 2020 Dalkey Literary Awards and won the inaugural John McGahern Annual Book Prize. His second novel, A Sabbatical in Leipzig, was published by Lilliput in 2020 and is forthcoming from Profile Books. It was shortlisted for the Kerry Group Irish Novel of the Year Award 2021. His first short story collection, Midfield Dynamo, was published in 2021 and was longlisted for the Edge Hill Short Story Prize.

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15 reviews for The Geometer Lobachevsky

  1. Lilliput Press

    ‘A masterful meditation … The Geometer Lobachevsky is another arresting, enigmatic work by one of our most original writers.’

    – Luke Warde, Sunday Independent

  2. Lilliput Press

    ‘Duncan skilfully melds past and present in a story layered with betrayal and dread.’

    – Orna Mulcahy, The Gloss

  3. Lilliput Press

    ‘What is most fascinating about Adrian’s writing is his ability to a story from the technical skills he has used as an engineer.’

    – Jessica Thompson, Longford Leader

  4. Lilliput Press

    ‘The Geometer Lobachevsky is quite the literary trick, delivered with precision engineering.’

    – Pat Carty, Hot Press

  5. Lilliput Press

    ‘The story he tells is a kind of deception, and it is the subtle deceptions of language that are this novel’s true subject.’

    – Kevin Brazil, Literary Review

  6. Lilliput Press

    Duncan’s refusal to make things ‘too easy’, to turn away from the furrow he works towards the rising sun, is what makes his work so unique and essential.

    – Chris Beausang, Analogue Humanist

  7. Lilliput Press

    [Duncan’s] work is a study of masculinity, with its unique depiction of deeply feeling men in traditionally masculine working environments, including the dance between tenderness and violence underlying male camaraderie.

    – Mia Levitin, The Irish Times

  8. Lilliput Press

    Duncan appears interested in excising any curlicues or flourishes from his prose until it is a simple, elegant, reflective surface.

    – John Self, The Critic

  9. Lilliput Press

    Of course, if you’re as good a writer as Duncan, part of the [publishing] industry may come to reshape itself around you. Long may he continue to write about his obsessions.

    – John Self, The Irish Times

  10. Lilliput Press

    ‘Adrian Duncan is that rare thing, a writer with an original vision and with a visionary prose style to match. The Geometer Lobachevsky will haunt you, move you, and persuade you that you are in the presence of a real artist.’

    – Kevin Power, author of White City and Bad Day in Blackrock

  11. Lilliput Press

    ‘Adrian Duncan writes with emotional accuracy and what seems like effortless precision about work and exile, about buildings and cities. To his narratives, he brings a mixture of the exact and the visionary. He is a writer who has come to recreate the world on his own terms.’

    – Colm Tóibín, author of The Magician and Laureate for Irish Fiction

  12. Lilliput Press

    ‘A haunting and beautiful novel that revisions the natural world and our attempts to control it through the eyes of a fugitive Soviet mathematician. By turns comic and tragic, and enthralling in its imaginative reach, Duncan’s layered narrative offers riches on every page’

    – Jo Lloyd, author of The Earth, Thy Great Exchequer, Ready Lies and winner of the BBC Short Story Prize

  13. Lilliput Press

    ‘Adrian Duncan has a sensibility and a course of investigation utterly his own, and The Geometer Lobachevsky is his best novel yet: a darkly ruminative tale of exile and endeavour, under whose surface move the tectonic plates of the twentieth century.’

    – Rob Doyle, author of Autobibliography and Threshold

  14. Lilliput Press

    ‘One of the most important, original, and intriguing writers working now. This book is starkly moving, beautiful, sensual, and the way he writes landscape is so phenomenologically precise it makes every writer I know wish they could write like him.’

    – Niamh Campbell, author of We Were Young and This Happy

  15. Lilliput Press

    ‘In crackling prose that is somehow precise, mathematical, and exuberant all at once, Duncan captures the poetry of mapmaking and the richness of small lives. This ode to infrastructure is a luminous achievement.’

    – Cóilín Parsons, author of The Ordnance Survey and Modern Irish Literature

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ISBN
9781843518297
Weight 0.4 kg
Dimensions 136 × 216 mm
Publication Date

April 2022

Format

Paperback with flaps, 208pp.

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