Maylis de Kerangal is truly a singular writer, and Painting Time is a perfect example of her unique sensibilities. Translated from the French, the novel follows a young student at the famous Institut de Peinture in Brussels. De Kerangal describes painting as an intensely physical act: painters' bodies are hardened and strained by their work, and the artists fight constantly against their physical limits to create perfect recreations of the world. Here decorative paintings function not as ephemeral ideas, but as material objects, embodied by their artists’ obsessive attention to detail. Painting Time is hypnotic and obsessive, but also suffused with warmth and a near spirituality, charmingly narrated in de Kerangal’s intimate, strangely whimsical, authorial voice. One of my favorites of the year.
Painting Time, by Maylis de Kerangal