Voyage to the End of the Room

Oceane (conceived on a cross-Channel ferry) doesn't get out much. But then there's a lot you can do in your room..."Voyage to the end of the Room" is Tibor Fischer back on top form - funny, provocative, foul-mouthed, ingenious, thoughtful, touching and completely original. Narrated by a woman who is equally funny, provocative etc, on the surface it's a novel about a failed dancer turned computer-graphics designer who's been around the block but these days doesn't leave her house. At heart, though, it's a meditation on how and whether you can ever know other people, what is evil, what is reality, what is humanity - and can you fake them? Or is there a litmus test for the real thing? Reality constantly bumps up against virtual reality, as the noel pans around the globe from Brixton to the holiday island of Chuuk by way of Barcelona, the Balkans and the Humber Estuary, introducing a fantastical cast of irresistable characters and their stories - from sad whores and pseudo-travel agents in Lambeth to perfectly formed sex-workers and 'wetwork' specialists in the Club Babylon, a Spanish Tower of Babel where our heroine used to work and bizarre deaths keep occurring; and from a scrupulously devious debt collector to mercenaries and other hard men in former Yugoslavia. There is a brilliant twist that jolts the whole novel into perspective, when Oceane starts getting letters from a friend whose been dead for 15 years, and is drawn into a mystery whose answer might or might not be found as far away as Micronesia.