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Geoff Dyer, described by the Daily Telegraph as ‘possibly the best living writer in Britain’, takes on his biggest challenge yet: unlocking the film that has obsessed him all his adult life. Magnificently unpredictable and hilarious (and surely one of the most unusual books ever written about cinema), Zona takes the reader on an enthralling, thought-provoking journey.
The ostensible subject of Zona is the film Stalker, by the great Russian director Andrei Tarkovsky. As Dyer immerses us in the movie, it becomes apparent that Stalker is only the point of departure for a wonderfully digressive exploration of cinema, of how we understand our obsessions and of how we try to realise - and, discover - our deepest wishes.
Listen to Geoff Dyer discuss his new novel, Zona, on ABC Radio National’s Books and Arts Daily.
Dyer’s writing is enviably paradoxical: intimate, jocular and completely unpretentious, yet clearly considered and surgically precise. Zona is a very quick read, and gives the impression of having been written just as quickly, but its balance and structure suggest that a great deal of time and thought belies the effect of immediacy. It’s exactly the way you’d write, if you could. It asks so many probing questions of itself, of its author and of you too that you’ll close its covers feeling as though you’ve developed a new appreciation for great art and a renewed desire to communicate that appreciation in ways that match the efforts of the artist.
Personal memoir, often light-hearted, merges with seemingly casual film criticism, digressions fanning out from the central narrative…For lovers of the dense texture of ideas, this is unlike any book you’ll read this year.
‘Geoff Dyer’s Zona is a love letter to Tarkovsky’s film masterpiece, Stalker. A beautifully eloquent piece of writing.’
‘Discursive and provocative. Its eclectic ramblings are a must read for those who love the offbeat.’
Dyer is the perfect man for the job of unpicking the complex mysteries of Tarkovsky’s Zone. He has a rare talent for writing about high-minded concerns with disarming simplicity. What makes him a pleasure to read is that he isn’t oppressed by the need to be reverential.’
‘It takes you deeper into the questions and doubts raised in the film, and the book, enriching both. He’s a bit of a Stalker himself, when it comes to it – and a more entertaining, exuberant guide to tricky Russian cinema I can’t imagine.’
‘Throughout, the writing is of an aphoristic grace and concision, suffused with humour and a delight to read.’
‘This is the book that many Geoff Dyer fans have been hoping for…Zona is a genre-bending homage….by turns profound, grouchy, candid and witty….Dyer’s prose can be surgically precise but it is the charming looseness, that improvised air of friendly cleverness that makes his voice so distinctive…The book is funny and thoughtful on the difficulty of art. On the pleasures of art, and our souls’ responsiveness to it, it’s exhilarating.’