Ezra Slef: The Next Nobel Laureate in Literature by Andrew Komarnyckyj
Hardcover – Tartarus Press – Feb 2021 – 259 pages
The pioneering writings of celebrated Russian novelist Ezra Slef have made him a titan of contemporary Postmodernism, with a worldwide following keen to know more about the man behind the books. Enter Humbert Botekin, a disgraced former professor of literature, and Slef’s biggest admirer. He writes the definitive biography of Slef, with compendious notes, an introduction, a list of plates, and a glossary.
But Botekin’s narrative soon spirals dangerously out of control. A supreme egotist, Botekin cannot resist assuming the foreground, so that his ostensible biography of Slef gradually changes into a personal memoir in which we learn far more about the biographer than about his subject. The narrative is both sinister and darkly comic.
Botekin’s secrets include making a Faustian pact with a well-travelled gentleman who bears an uncanny resemblance to the Devil—a likeness the self-absorbed Botekin fails to notice, even as his world collapses around him.