Mathias Enard: Compass
Mathias Enard discusses his new novel, Compass, winner of the 2015 Prix Goncourt and shortlisted for the 2017 International Man Booker Prize. --- As night falls over Vienna, Franz Ritter, an insomniac musicologist, takes to his sickbed with an unspecified illness and spends a restless night drifting between dreams and memories, revisiting the important chapters of his life: his ongoing fascination with the Middle East and his numerous travels to Istanbul, Aleppo, Damascus, and Tehran, as well as the various writers, artists, musicians, academics, orientalists, and explorers who populate this vast dreamscape. At the center of these memories is his elusive, unrequited love, Sarah, a fiercely intelligent French scholar caught in the intricate tension between Europe and the Middle East. With exhilarating prose and sweeping erudition, Mathias Énard pulls astonishing elements from disparate sources―nineteenth-century composers and esoteric orientalists, Balzac and Agatha Christie―and binds them together in a most magical way.