From the author of The Cellist of Sarajevo, an exciting new novel that uses the life and sudden death of Harry Houdini to weave a tale of magic, intrigue, and illusion.
What is real and what is an illusion? Can you trust your memory to provide an accurate record of what has happened in your life?
The Confabulist is a clever , entertaining, and suspenseful narrative that weaves together the rise and fall of world-famous Harry Houdini with the surprising story of Martin Strauss, an unknown man whose fate seems forever tied to the magician’s in a way that will ultimately startle and amaze. It is at once a vivid portrait of an alluring, late-nineteenth/early-twentieth-century world; a front-row seat to a world-class magic show; and an unexpected love story. In the end, the book is a kind of magic trick in itself: there is much more to Martin than meets the eye.
Historically rich and ingeniously told, this is a novel about magic and memory, truth and illusion, and the ways that love, hope, grief, and imagination canfor better or for worsealter what we perceive and believe.
About the Author
Steven Galloway lives in British Columbia and teaches creative writing at the University of British Columbia. He is the author of The Cellist of Sarajevo, which was an IndieBound and a Barnes and Noble Discover selection and has been chosen for community reads across the country.
Praise for The Confabulist…
“Like a good magic trick, The Confabulist is so cleverly constructed that Galloway leaves you wondering: How did he do it?...It’s a beautifully wrought novel about the grip of illusion and the way we tell ourselves stories to seek redemption, or forgiveness at the very least.”—Washington Post
"Memory is a cagey friend: What we see is subjective, colored by what we want to believe. Such tension between wish and reality is employed to stunning effect in Steven Galloway’s new novel, The Confabulist. Intertwining the lives of the famous Houdini and a misfit named Martin Strauss, Galloway’s story has a big trick up its sleeve, but his talent is no illusion."—More
“As Galloway rightly notes — in beautiful passages on topics such as the meaning of love and the responsibilities of parenthood — just because something is fictional doesn't mean it isn't also real.”—Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel
"Fabulous . . . A page-turner you'll want to read twice.”—Readers Digest
"If contemporary literature is anything to go by, the golden age of magic was around the beginning of the 20th century. It was the heyday of perhaps the most famous magician to have ever lived, one Mr. Harry Houdini, and it is with his story that the tale of The Confabulist begins. Martin Strauss is not a name that anyone has heard, but his story is so tightly bound with Houdini’s that it is hard to see where one ends and the other begins. It promises to mesmerize in the same way that The Night Circus did."—Book Riot
"As much as the novel is a stylish reimagining of Houdini’s biography, it is also a deep exploration of the meaning of magic. Houdini’s narrative serves as a lens through which Galloway examines our notions of truth and illusion, of reality and fiction, and our ability, or inability, to distinguish one from the other."—Bustle
"In this darkly fanciful take on the Houdini legend . . . the magician's life is recounted through the damaged memory of the fan who killed him with a punch to the stomach in 1926. . . . [Galloway's] his explorations of the relationships between truth and illusion, fiction and reality, need and conscience are stimulating and affecting. . . . An entertaining fictional reflection on the 20th century's most famous magician."—Kirkus
"A brilliant novel, and one that virtually demands multiple readings to pick up all the subtleties (especially concerning the end of the book, and enough said about that)."—Booklist (starred)
“The Confabulist is a historical novel that is more relevant than ever today. What begins as a playful, mind-teasing mystery about Harry Houdini, the greatest magician who ever lived, turns subtly, brilliantly into a beautiful elegy on love and loss, identity and self-deception. Galloway, who is fast emerging as one of our finest young writers, has produced another novel to linger over, read and re-read, in order to glean all that it has to offer.”—Kevin Baker, author of The Big Crowd
“Galloway has always been an uncommonly gifted storyteller, and this is very much a novel about storytelling. It’s also a haunting exploration of sorrow and identity and illusion—and a beautifully calibrated full-length magic act.”—The Vancouver Sun
“Vancouver author Steven Galloway created literary magic with The Cellist of Sarajevo. . . . Now in his new novel, The Confabulist, Galloway makes magic again, this time of the literal, stage-show variety. . . . He takes fascinating true-life aspects of Houdini, mixes them with speculation and creates a memorable though not always likeable character. . . . Galloway has created ideal conditions for the exploration of reality vs. illusion, of real vs. false memories. . . . With Galloway’s elegant sleight-of-hand, [The Confabulist] is as finely crafted as the most intricate magic trick, right to the revelatory conclusion. Whether or not it’s the ending you anticipate, you’re likely to think, after any clever illusion, ‘Amazing. How did he do that?’ ” —Toronto Star
“[Houdini is] the star of the book. . . . He is such a fascinating individual, well described in Galloway’s novel. . . . Galloway is naturally drawn to real figures or the ‘real-life moment.’ And to realize his work he did a lot of research.”—Ottawa Citizen
“Memory, which is at the heart of [Steven] Galloway’s new novel, is perhaps the most remarkable magic trick there is. . . . The Confabulist, Galloway’s eagerly anticipated fourth novel, is itself a trick, too, an impressive feat of close-up magic from one of the country’s most talented young literary conjurors. . . . It’s a delightful, delirious narrative that hinges on a kick-ass supposition . . . that, once started, is as difficult to escape from as one of the straitjackets used in [Houdini’s] death-defying stunts.”—National Post
“A fantastical new tale that interlaces history with imagination.”—The Globe and Mail
“Colourful. . . . Galloway builds intrigue by mixing the personal and the political. . . . Readers looking for the innocent pleasures of a good smoke-and-mirrors mystery will be amply rewarded.”—Quill & Quire