Candle Life by Armanno Venero

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Random House Australia 2006. 'When a man can't sleep any mor e, any sleep is a good sleep, and this one turned out to be something like a coma, and filled with you, Yukiko, only you.'An Australian novelist is living in an arts community in Paris, trying to write. He is mourning the death of the love of his life, Kiko. Still drowning in grief, one day he is harassed by a beggar, who claims to be a famous American writer, Sonny Lee. As his life is penetrated by Sonny it begins to unravel. Soon the novelist encounters Zoya, a mute Russian girl with whom he makes love, and in turn she introduces him to Les Belles Endormies - a place where, after drinking a potent green tea, clients fall asleep and experience hallucinogenic dreams about episodes in their past. In the meantime the death of a friend brings the novelist into contact with Emilie, and slowly love begins to seem possible to him again. The story moves from Paris's artistic community to the maelstrom of a dance party in the city's streets to its chilling subterranean catacombs to the eerie thermal springs of Pamukkale in Turkey. Dealing with the nature of reality and dreams, of love, identity, despair and salvation, this is a truly brilliant and startlingly original novel.