Seven Types of Ambiguity

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'One of the 50 most important writers in the world' -- Lire (France)

Seven Types of Ambiguity, Elliot Perlman

'One of the 50 most important writers in the world' -- Lire (France)

Is it mad to love in spite of the evidence...or just necessary?

'There is ambiguity in most human relationships. Like a sequence of words, a relationship can be open to different interpretations. And when two people have differing views, not merely of the state of their relationship, but of its very nature, it can affect the entire course of their lives.' Following years of unrequited love, an out-of-work school teacher decides to take matters into his own hands, triggering a chain of events that neither he nor his psychiatrist could have anticipated.

At once a psychological thriller and a social critique, Seven Types of Ambiguity is a story of obsessive love in an age of obsessive materialism. It's a story of impulse and paralysis, of empty marriages, lovers and a small boy, gambling and the market, of adult children and their parents, of poetry and prostitution, psychiatry and the law. Brimming with emotional, intellectual and moral dilemmas, the page-turning story - reminiscent of the richest fiction of the nineteenth century in its labyrinthine complexity - unfolds at a rapid-fire pace to reveal the full extent to which these people have been affected by each other and by the insecure and uncertain times in which they live.

'Where, critics have asked, is Australia's equivalent of Jonathan Franzen's The Corrections, or Philip Roth's American Pastoral? Now, with Perlman's achingly humane, richly layered, seamlessly constructed masterpiece, it seems that we have it' -- Canberra Times

Available Formats

  • Paperback
    $19.99 RRP
    ISBN: 9781742752990
    Published: 03/10/2011
    Imprint: Vintage Australia
    Extent: 624 pages
  • eBook
    ISBN: 9781742753003
    Published: 28/09/2011
    Imprint: RHA eBooks Adult
    Extent: 624 pages
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"Compulsively readable." - The New Yorker

"Bustling, kaleidoscopic... There are traces of Dickens’s range in Perlman and of George Eliot’s humanist spirit... This is an exciting gamble of a novel, one willing to lose its shirt in its bid to hold you... Stay with it for the long haul. It’s worth it." - A New York Times Book Review Editor's Choice and Notable Book of the Year, The New York Times

"An exemplary novel in the tradition of Thomas Hardy and the earlier D H Lawrence. Perlman’s power is in conveying the strife between personality and character in each of his protagonists. His prose, like his story itself, is vivid, humane, and finally optimistic in a manner that strengthens the reader’s perceptiveness." - Harold Bloom

"Captures the zeitgeist of contemporary Australia every bit as powerfully as The Corrections anatomised that of America." - Sunday Telegraph (UK)

"A colossal achievement, a complicated, driven marathon of a book... The opening section is a tour de force... At the end, in a comprehensive, and almost Shakespearean way, Perlman picks up every loose thread and knots it." - The Observer (UK)

Elliot Perlman

Elliot Perlman

Elliot Perlman's Three Dollars won the Age Book of the Year Award, the Betty Trask Award (UK), the Fellowship of Australian Writers' Book of the Year Award and was shortlisted for the John Llewellyn-Rhys/Mail On Sunday Book of the Year Award (UK) as well as for the Miles Franklin Literary Award. Elliot Perlman also co-wrote the screenplay for the film of Three Dollars, which received the Australian Film Critics' Circle Award for Best Adapted Screenplay as well as the A.F.I. Award for Best Adapted Screenplay.

The Reasons I Won't Be Coming, a collection of stories, was a bestseller in the US where it was named a New York Times Book Review 'Editors' Choice' and received the Steele Rudd Award for the best Australian short story collection in its year of publication.

Perlman's second novel, Seven Types of Ambiguity, was a bestseller in France where it was described as 'one of the best novels of recent years, a complete success'(Le Monde). In Germany it was called a 'literary sensation' (Deutschlandradio), 'an impressive, iridescent all-encompassing view of feeling' (Der Spiegel), and described as having 'the virtues of the great modern European novel' (Süddeutsche Zeitung). It was a bestseller in the United States where it was described as having 'traces of Dickens's range and of George Eliot's generous humanist spirit' (New York Times) and named a New York Times Book Review 'Editors' Choice', a New York Times Book Review 'Notable Book of the Year' and a Washington Post 'Editors' Choice' as well as one of its all-time dozen favourites 'on the pain of love'. In the UK it was described as 'a colossal achievement….a tour de force…(in which) at the end, in a comprehensive, an almost Shakespearian way, Perlman picks up every loose thread and knots it' (The Observer) and named a Sunday Telegraph 'Book of the Year'. In Australia it was shortlisted for the Miles Franklin Literary Award as well as for the Queensland Premier's Award for Fiction.

Elliot Perlman is the recipient of the Queensland Premier's award for Advancing Public Debate and has been described by the Times Literary Supplement (UK) as 'Australia's outstanding social novelist', by Le Nouvelle Observateur (France) as the 'Zola d'Australie' and by Lire (France) as 'the classic of tomorrow', one of the '50 most important writers in the world'.

His most recent novel is the national bestseller, The Street Sweeper. He lives in Melbourne.