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The Combinations

by (Equus Press)

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THE COMBINATIONS, a novel, by Louis Armand. 888pp + xxxvii. Publication date: May 2016. Equus Press: London.

The "European anti-novel" in all its unrepentant glory is here in The Combinations, following in the tradition of Sterne, Rabelais, Cervantes, Joyce, Perec.

"Armand has written an important and corrosive novel, which is a commitment to creativity in the face of absurdity, a politics of avant garde literary concentration and experience that knows, as Camus had it, that: 'The innocent is the person who explains nothing.'" -- Richard Marshall, 3AM magazine

Shortlisted for the 2016 Not the Booker prize.

"Louis Armand's The Combinations is a 'great novel' -- long and complex. It exemplifies remarkably the possibilities of the genre and contradicts the contemporary obsession with its decline and commodification." --Jean Bessiere, Sorbonne-Paris III

In 8 octaves, 64 chapters and on 888 pages, Louis Armand's The Combinations is a "work of attempted fiction" that combines the beauty & intellectual exertion that is chess with the panorama of futility & chaos that is Prague (a.k.a. "Golem City"), across the 20th-century and before/after. Golem City, the ship of fools boarded by the famed D's (e.g. John) and K's (e.g. Edward) of the 16th/17th centuries (who attempted and failed to turn lead into gold), and the infamous H's (e.g. Adolf, e.g. Reinhard) of the 20th (who attempted and succeeded in turning flesh into soap). Armand's prose weaves together the City's thousand-and-one fascinating tales with a deeply personal account of one lost soul set adrift amid the early-90s' awakening from the nightmare that was the previous half-century of communist Mitteleuropa. The Combinations is a text whose 1) erudition dazzles, 2) structure humbles, 3) monotony never bores, 4) humour disarms, 5) relentlessness overwhelms, 6) storytelling captivates, 7) poignancy remains poignant, and 8) style simply never exhausts itself. Your move, Reader.

"Kafka's The Trial meets Robert Musil's The Man Without Qualities."

Louis Armand is a writer and visual artist who has lived in Prague since 1994. He has worked as an editor and publisher, and as a subtitles technician at the Karlovy Vary Film Festival, and is an editor of VLAK magazine. He is the author of eight novels, including Breakfast at Midnight in 2012, "a perfect modern noir, presenting Kafka's Prague as a bleak, monochrome singularity of darkness, despair and edgy, dry existentialist hardboil" (Richard Marshall, 3:AM) and Cairo (2014; short listed for the Guardian newspaper's Not-the-Booker Prize)). Described as "Robert Pinget does Canetti (in drag in Yugoslavia)," Armand's third novel Clair Obscur was published by Equus in 2011. His previous novel, Menudo (Antigen), was hailed as "unrelenting, a flying wedge, an encyclopaedia of the wasteland, an uzi assault pumping desolation lead... inspiring!" (Thor Garcia, author of The News Clown).

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