Andrew Crumey

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Music, in a Foreign Language (1994)
Pfitz (1995)
D'Alembert's Principle (1996)
Mr Mee (2000)
Mobius Dick (2004)
Sputnik Caledonia (2008)
The Secret Knowledge (2013)
The Great Chain of Unbeing (2018)


Music, in a Foreign Language
(£7.99 ISBN 78 1873982 11 2 B. Format 243 pp)

'Music, in a Foreign Language used the brilliant conceit of a Britain just emerging from 40 years of polite Stalinism as a platform for some glittering intellectual fireworks.' Boyd Tonkin in The New Statesman

'The strikingly inventive structure of this novel allows the author to explore the similarities between fictions and history. At any point, there are infinite possibilities for the way the story, a life, or the history of the world might progress. The whole work is enjoyably unpredictable, and poses profound questions about the issues of motivation, choice and morality.' The Sunday Times

'A writer more interested in inheriting the mantle of Perec and Kundera than Amis and Drabble. Like much of the most interesting British fiction around at the moment, Music, in a Foreign Language is being published in paperback by a small independent publishing house, giving hope that a tentative but long overdue counter-attack is being mounted on the indelible conservatism of the modern English novel. With this novel he has begun his own small stand against cultural mediocrity, and to set himself up, like his hero, as "a refugee from drabness. From tinned peas, and rain".' Jonathan Coe in The Guardian

'Watch Andrew Crumey, whose very different Music, in a Foreign Language handled real intricacies of time and ideas with astonishing maturity in a haunting, low-key up-date of 1984.' Douglas Gifford in The Scotsman's Books of the Year

'Italo Calvino's fragmented narrative springs to mind when reading this story that twists history and alternative destinies. In a marvellously inventive tale, the narrator, living in a totalitarian Britain, has been writing a novel about a man and woman who meet on a train and begin an affair, but he is distracted by possible outcomes and erotic fantasies. Crumey's glorious imagination is complemented by a skill that manages to sustain the structure.' The Herald


Pfitz
(£8.99 ISBN 78 1 909232 80 8 B. Format 164 pp)

'Rreinnstadt is a place which exists nowhere - the conception of an 18th century prince who devotes his time, and that of his subjects, to laying down on paper the architecture and street-plans of this great, yet illusory city. Its inhabitants must also be devised: artists and authors, their fictional lives and works, all concocted by different departments. When Schenck, a worker in the Cartography Office, discovers the 'existence' of Pfitz, a manservant visiting Rreinnstadt, he sets about illicitly recreating Pfitz's life. Crumey is a daring writer: using the stuff of fairy tales, he ponders the difference between fact and fiction, weaving together philosophy and fantasy to create a magical, witty novel.' The Sunday Times

'Pfitz is a surprisingly warm and likeable book, a combination of intellectual high-wire act and good traditional storytelling with a population of lovers and madmen we do care about, despite their advertised fictionality. Certainly, Crumey's narrative gymnastics have not affected his ability to create strong, fleshy characters, and none more fleshy, more fleshly, than Frau Luppen, Schenck's middle-aged landlady, a great blown rose of a woman who expresses her affection for her lodger by feeding him bowls of inedible stew.' Andrew Miller in The New York Times

'Built out of fantasy, Andrew Crumey's novel stands, like the monumental museum at the centre of its imaginary city, as an edifice of erudition.' Andrea Ashworth in The Times Literary Supplement

'Pfitz manifests the same healthy disdain for realism that made his first novel, Music, in a Foreign Language, such a pleasant surprise. His borrowings from Borges, Calvino and Pavic are here just as shameless. But at this rate Crumey may yet become a hero to fans of the postmodern Euro-novel who wonder why we Brits seldom produce a homegrown variety.' Jonathan Coe in The Guardian

' In the manner of Flann O'Brien's classic At Swim-Two-Birds, Pfitz is a hilariously mind-boggling story within a story within a story, all of whose characters eventually intrude on one another as plot lines converge. Sf fans will want to join the literati in laughing over former theoretical physicist Crumey's brainy romp.' Ray Olson in Booklist

£8.99 ISBN 78 1 909232 80 8 B. Format 164 pp


D'Alembert's Principle
(£7.99 ISBN 978 1 873982 32 7 B. Format 203 pp)

'Wonderfully diverting and stimulating entertainment. Cunningly structured and as satisfying as an intricate piece of clockwork, it plays with narrative, revels in ideas and succeeds in being both fey and sharp, detached and compassionate. At a time when fiction gives all to the tired virtual realities of sex and violence, internets, Agas and middle-class Angst, it is a brilliant reminder of the power of the imagination to surprise, delight and open windows.' David Coward in The Times Literary Supplement

'It is a prolonged attack on reductive thought, on any one way of seeing the world. Like quantum physics, the novel wants to offer the reader possibilities. It is very post-modern. The book also sets the taste by which it should be judged. Like Crumey's giant astronomical clock, marking time of the universe, his ambitious novel works. It doesn't stop ticking.' Alice Thompson in The Scotsman

'Crumey does produce excellent post-modernist novels, each as concentric and cunning as the others. This is a triptych starting with D'Alembert penning his imagined memoirs. The literary equivalent of an Escher, the story has no identifiable end or beginning. Clever, entertaining, engaging.' Lucy Atkins in The Guardian

'Swift, who relished every storyteller's ruse and mocked the pomp of scholarship, would have enjoyed the Scottish writer Andrew Crumey.' Boyd Tonkin in The New Statesman

'D'Alembert's Principle is certainly another beautifully composed work which lets you glide through the story but afterwards leaves you asking questions, looking for connections and puzzling, quite happily, for hours.' Rosemary Goring in Scotland on Sunday


Mr Mee
(£9.99 ISBN 978 1 909232 94 5 B. Format 344 pp)

'Clever, puckish, and artfully complicated . . . [Crumey's book] raises seductive questions about the nature of experience . . . Fans of Tom Stoppard and Michael Frayn will relish this novel's puzzles and paradoxes, its unfolding and ingenious designs . . . Jaunty and sometimes enjoyably silly . . . Crumey is a confident narrator, and his book has a heart as well as a brain. It is not only an intellectual treat but a moving meditation on aspiration and desire.' Hilary Mantel in The New York Times

'The book is fabulous stuff: erudite but not patronising, elegantly and simply written, jumping ambitiously across the centuries with a good dash of down-to-earth entertainment. More than once, Crumey makes his reader pause, rest the book in his lap, and acknowledge that life is really quite extraordinary. He deserves to better known.' The Times

'Andrew Crumey's new novel rolls up a suggestively tangled mishmash of literary theory, quantum physics and bogus Enlightenment philosophy into an engaging whimsical narrative.' Sam Leith in The Guardian

'An intellectual romp . . . Crumey has spun a delightful brain-tickler of a novel that undermines its own pretensions, a subversion that is in fact at the heart of the book's very real debate over the power of literature to redeem or corrupt or do anything at all.' Maureen Shelly in Time Out

'Crumey tells [his] tale with elegance and humor, and in rich detail. His immense talent reveals itself most potently in his ability to find remarkable connections in otherwise disparate intellectual concepts conceived over the course of several centuries, and then to turn those connections into a coherent and lively story . . . The many surprises and twists [in this book] provide a rare and spectacular reading experience . . . Mr. Mee is a challenging book, but it's one to savour.' Andrew C. Ervin in The Washington Post Book World

'In short - it's fabulous. This is a novel which deserves to break its author through, if ever I read one... Mr Mee had me helpless with laughter.' Jonathan Coe


Mobius Dick
(£9.99 ISBN 978 1 909232 93 8 B. Format 312 pp)

'I have a weakness for Andrew Crumey's novels. I call it a weakness because I've noticed that, when reading them in waiting rooms or on trains, people look up angrily whenever I laugh. There's much to laugh at in Mobius Dick. Like a magical conjuror, Crumey keeps all manner of subjects - chaos and coincidence, quantum mechanics, psychoanalysis, technology, telepathy and much else - whirling amazingly in the air.' Michael Holroyd in The New Statesmen's Books of the Year

'In Mobius Dick, the narrative becomes a series of coincidences that we interpret as we wish, and all things are real only insofar as we want to see them that way. Under the skin of this teasing lurks a concern for the reputation of artists, and the role of chance in building the career of great musicians and writers. If Brahms had been ugly, would he have stayed playing the piano in a brothel? If Buddenbrooks had sold poorly, would Thomas Mann ever have been heard of at all? Andrew Crumey's work has been highly praised and not widely enough read for too long. In all the possible futures that exist for this intelligent, witty and accomplished writer, a wider readership should be more than just a matter of chance.' James Wood in The London Magazine

'When the physicist John Ringer receives an anonymous text message saying "Call me: H'', he thinks it could be from his former lover... What follows is a playful piece of scientific and literary conjuring, with Schrödinger, Schumann and Melville all folded into three increasingly bizarre interlocking narratives. The central plot hangs on a quantum computer buried deep under a Scottish mental hospital that Ringer fears might just produce "the biggest bang in 14 million years'' - or, worse, entangle our reality with other possible realities, turning "the planet, perhaps the very cosmos itself, into a joke, which God alone might laugh at''. The author has a PhD in theoretical physics, so you feel you're in safe hands, even as he leads you on a merry dance through the madder fringes of scientific conjecture. I'm not sure my grip on non-collapsible wave functions was any firmer by the end of the novel, but it was certainly a stimulating ride.' Jonathan Gibbin The Daily Telegraph

'Ingenious' is far too pallid a term of praise for this cunningly contrived entertainment, which may sound ponderous in outline but is actually a breeze, by turns slyly comic and oddly melancholy. For most readers, the soundness of its science will be of small consequence; as fiction it is solid plutonium, and unflaggingly enjoyable.' Kevin Jackson in The Sunday Times

'Andrew Crumey manages to make complex ideas seem simple, and he has that commodity so rare among sci-fi writers - a sense of humour. He has already won critical acclaim for his earlier novels and deserves a wider readership. This novel combines the intellectual parlour games of David Lodge with the unnerving prescient vision of JG Ballard.' Sebastien Shakespeare in The Literary Review


Sputnik Caledonia
(£9.99 ISBN 978 1 910213 13 1 B. Format 553 pp)

'Sputnik Caledonia is a wildly imaginative novel, but it's engaging too, the early chapters of Robbie in a recognisable early-1970s Scotland sustaining our interest through all the twists it takes later on. And although Crumey doesn't tie up all his loose ends in a conventional manner, within the bounds of the book's own internal logic, all its pieces fit neatly together. It's an exciting novel, experimenting with quantum realities without sacrificing the essential emotional core of a work of fiction.' Alastair Mabbott in The Herald

'This is a surprisingly moving novel about the impersonal forces - be they political, quantum, temporal or otherwise - that can threaten or shatter the bonds of love, and of family life. Never has astrophysics seemed so touching and funny.' Sinclair McKay in The Daily Telegraph

' You are invited to use your own brain to grasp the links between Goethe and science, the circular thinking of Kant and the inward gravity of black holes, and come out with your own answers, your own universe. There are echoes, here, of Alasdair Gray's Lanark: echoes, oddly enough, of Jonathan Coe's What a Carve Up! In a way, none of it should work but it does, gloriously. There is some beautiful writing, and quiet fun. Along the way one gets to learn a surprising amount about the historical, near-poetic links between hard science and philosophy. At the end, however, two aspects linger; the deftly drawn parallel world, a real haunting triumph, and the very real, very human, quietly tragic tale, only properly there at the very end, of a good if misguided man, father Joe, given up on competing global philosophies but struggling with something far harder, harder than Einstein or Goethe: to cope, simply, with the loss of his wee boy.' Euan Ferguson in The Observer

'An ingenious blend of philosophy, physics and fantasy...immensely stimulating and entertaining.' The Sunday Telegraph

' The chirpily surreal title of this novel sums up Andrew Crumey's work, which sites itself at a risky double intersection between physics and comedy, sci-fi and serious contemporary fiction.' M. John Harrison in The Times Literary Supplement

But the sweep and scope of Sputnik Caledonia should leave you breathless with admiration: not only do we learn, as we often have from Crumey's novels before, but we also laugh, a lot. The final revelation on which the novel ends is both emotionally powerful and intensely satisfying. Sputnik Caledonia is a quantum leap forward for the Scottish novel.' David Stenhouse in Scotland on Sunday


The Secret Knowledge
(£9.99 ISBN 9781 909232 45 7 B. Format 237 pp)

' In 1913 Yvette stands in the Paris sunshine, gazing at a fairground wheel and waiting for composer Pierre to greet her with what she hopes will be a marriage proposal - but fears will be something darker. Their rendezvous ends with a bang that propels Crumey's seventh novel past Walter Benjamin, Theodor Adorno, civil unrest and war and into the present day, where troubled pianist David Conroy and his student Paige come across the dark symphony Pierre was writing before his tryst with Yvette. Various men - some charming, some threatening, none entirely trustworthy - seek Pierre's notes, and as Conroy retreats into paranoia and Paige dreams of fame, another conflagration looms. With its enthusiasm for secret societies and acts that echo through time, The Secret Knowledge mines the fruitful ground between Cloud Atlas and Foucault's Pendulum. Some scenes - a febrile union meeting, a loaded meeting between rival pianists - are wonderful.' James Smart in The Guardian

'Andrew Crumey writes big fiction about big ideas; his previous novels confidently discuss the work of real-life thinkers such as Schrödinger or Goethe, and his latest is no exception...the book is an extraordinarily clever enterprise that repays close reading.' Gutter Magazine

'Crumey takes on the complex and thorny subjects of parallel universes, Schrödinger's cat, and the plight of philosopher Walter Benjamin in this intelligent work of speculative fiction. The narrative pivots back and forth among various times and locales, including the present day; Paris in 1913, home of rising composer Pierre Klauer and his fiancee, Yvette; Scotland in 1919; and Spain in 1940. When Pierre is shot and apparently killed, Yvette honours his last wish and, with the help of a stranger, Louis Carreau, reclaims his unpublished score from his parents' house. Pierre then appears to resurface in Scotland several years later as a factory worker. Whether he lived or died - or both - is the question, as modern-day pianist David Conroy, his career on the wane, ponders if a rediscovered Klauer score might be the answer to all his problems. The philosophical questions the book raises are clever and insightful.' Publishers Weekly

' ... one of the most interesting books I've read this year. I recommend it, as a head-turning sort of philosophical fiction that's rarely done, and even more rarely done so well.' John Self in Asylum

'Andrew Crumey's seventh novel finds the author up to his old tricks. Crumey begins his story in Paris in 1913, a date perhaps chosen for its significance both to modern music (the premiere of The Rite of Spring) and quantum theory (the Bohr model of the atom). A young composer at a peak moment - out at a fair with his fiancee on his arm and his first major work locked away back home - suddenly vanishes, only to pop up again six years later as a political agitator in Scotland. As Crumey's readers will immediately recognize, we have entered one of his mirrored boxes of many worlds. Pierre Klauer, a Schrödinger's cat writ large, is simultaneously dead in Paris and alive on Clydeside.' Paul Griffiths in The Times Literary Supplement


The Great Chain of Unbeing
(£9.99 ISBN 978 1 910213 77 3 B. Format 344 pp)

"Andrew Crumey's novels are renowned for their unique blend of science, history, philosophy and humour. Now he brings the same insight and originality to this story cycle the title of which offers an ironic twist on the ancient doctrine of connectedness, the great chain of being. Here we fnd a blind man contemplating the light of an atom bomb, a musician disturbed by a conspiracy of radio waves, a visitor to Moscow caught up in a comic case of mistaken identity... Fans of Crumey's novels will occasionally spot hints of themes and fgures that have recurred throughout his fction; readers new to his work will delight in fnding subtle links within the pieces. Are they all part of some larger untold story? We have nothing to lose but the chains of our imagination: what lies beyond is a great change of being."