Austin Wright - Tony & Susan (4 stars)

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Austin Wright - Tony & Susan

(Atlantic)

New York novelist Austin Wright created this clever, multi-layered novel in 1993, to reasonable acclaim and the acquisition of film rights. Then it disappeared, out of print and forgotten until somebody saw fit to rescue it. Which is just as well, because Tony & Susan is a literary gem. Despite sounding like a Mills & Boon couple, the eponymous characters actually exist in different fictional universes. Susan is our protagonist, a Chicago-based teacher in her late 40s struggling to find a reason to keep her second marriage alive, while maths professor Tony lives inside an unpublished novel by Susan’s ex-husband, Edward, who seeks her opinion on his debut tome.

As a reader, we vicariously share Susan’s concern about the terrifying ordeal Tony endures in Nocturnal Animals, worry about the outcome and analyse Edward’s talent as a writer. But while Susan is our road in, Wright saves his most thrilling plotlines and beautifully crafted prose for Tony.

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