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Publisher's Summary

Bloomsbury presents Piranesi by Susanna Clarke, read by Chiwetel Ejiofor.

Winner of the 2021 Audie Awards Audiobook of the Year.

Winner of the 2021 Women's Prize for Fiction.

Shortlisted for The Costa Novel of The Year Award.

A Sunday Times and New York Times best seller.

Chosen as A Book of The Year by the Times, Guardian, Observer, Daily Telegraph, Financial Times, I Paper, New Statesman, Spectator, Time Magazine, Times Literary Supplement, BBC Culture, Netgalley and the Church Times.

The spectacular new audiobook from the best-selling author of Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, ‘one of our greatest living authors,’ New York Magazine.

Piranesi lives in the House. Perhaps he always has.

In his notebooks, day after day, he makes a clear and careful record of its wonders: the labyrinth of halls, the thousands upon thousands of statues, the tides that thunder up staircases, the clouds that move in slow procession through the upper halls. On Tuesdays and Fridays Piranesi sees his friend, the Other. At other times he brings tributes of food to the Dead. But mostly, he is alone.

Messages begin to appear, scratched out in chalk on the pavements. There is someone new in the House. But who are they and what do they want? Are they a friend or do they bring destruction and madness as the Other claims?

Lost texts must be found, secrets must be uncovered. The world that Piranesi thought he knew is becoming strange and dangerous.

The beauty of the House is immeasurable; its kindness infinite.

©2020 Susanna Clarke (P)2020 Bloomsbury Publishing Plc

What the critics say

"What a world Susanna Clarke conjures into being.... Piranesi is an exquisite puzzle-box." (David Mitchell) 

"It’s always great to have some fiction to heartily recommend, and while there’s been stiff competition this year, Piranesi by Susanna Clarke has won out in the end. A masterful work of weird fiction, it’s a novel that grips, perplexes and moves you, usually all at once!" (Observer, The Best Books of 2020)

"The fiction, nonfiction and poetry that deepened our understanding, ignited our curiosity and helped us escape.... For fantasy readers often eager to get lost in mystical worlds and escape the complications of real life, Piranesi’s predicament deeply resonates." (Time, Books of the Year)

What listeners say about Piranesi

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Confused by my delight

Piranesi was utterly gripping. We had 20 minutes left of the book after a 3-hour drive home and found ourselves sitting in the car in the driveway, riveted. It would have taken less than a minute to go inside and listen in comfort but we didn’t want to break the narrative.
Still, but I’m really not clear why I like it so much. The usual attractions — compelling plot and characters — don’t really apply here. But two days later, my mind is still worrying at the book the way my fingers worry a pebble in my pocket.

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incredible story

An amazing feat of imagination. Thought provoking, gentle and kind. Beautifully written and read. A masterpiece really!

4 people found this helpful

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Predictable

After the author's previous book, I expected something spectacular. Yet I found that although the world is absorbing and intriguing, the story is disappointingly predictable.

3 people found this helpful

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Magic!

Be patient. Sense and familiarity will come. Meanwhile, enjoy the writing and Clarke's wonderful imagination.

3 people found this helpful

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An intriguing tale

(no spoilers)

It took me a while to connect and like the main character. By the halfway mark I felt much more attached to them and even found myself conflicted about what I thought he should do or feel which was really interesting. I think I enjoyed witnessing their development the most. if you enjoy peering into the psychology of characters, you'll enjoy this.

The setting itself is fascinating and I loved the way its mysteries unravel as the story progresses. If you like strange and weird worlds (I don't want to say fantasy, because it's not really a fantasy setting), you might enjoy this.

I wish the pacing of the first half of the book was more exciting though I was definitely intrigued enough to make it halfway and then I was hooked.

The Narrator puts emotion and energy into the reading making it very enjoyable.

2 people found this helpful

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Captivating Storytelling

A tale to make you believe in mysteries like the wonder of childhood. Moving from a whimsical scene setting introduction that I couldn't get enough of, to a deeper mystery that bridges worlds, the book was my go to entertainment until it was done. Susanna Clark is a supreme fairytale writer for novel-loving adultz. I would compare Piranesi to a tale combining elements of Neil Gaiman and Guy Gavriel Kay.

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love

I feel like the narration made me love this story more than I would have reading it. the narration was incredible, brought this story to life and I truly adored the characters and journey.

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Are we all reviewing the same book?

I have tried to like this as much as I enjoyed Johnathan Strange and Mr. Norrell and as much as other reviewers but I cannot follow what the book is about ! The reader is great - very clear, but the story has no obvious thread that I can understand. Maybe it will get better, but two hours in and it seems like a bad book investment for me.

Hard to believe that I would consider returning a (rare) book by Susanna Clarke but unless it starts to make sense ... goodbye Piranesi.

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An Incredible Work

I've read about 150 fantasy novels in the last 10 years. I think this one is my favourite. I've never read something that captures a world within a world the way the author does in this book.

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slow start, but after that I was hooked!

This was my very first audiobook, I quote enjoyed the narrator! the buildup in the beginning was curious and quite slow but once it picked up it had my full attention! very well written and painted a beautiful picture in my head.

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  • Henry V
  • 2021-02-26

Fascinating Social Study

The book is a wonderful mashup of Plato, CS Lewis, and Borges. I completely agree with the rave reviews. Clarke has written a masterpiece.

And the reaction to it is a fascinating social study. Half the audible readers think the book is genius. The other half think it’s boring, predictable, nonsensical. One reviewer characterizes the book as a string of random scenes.

It makes me wonder, Are we all reading the same book?

No of course we aren’t. We each bring to it our own experiences. As with all books. But something special must be happening here for the reviews to be so polarized. I’d like to take a stab at an explanation.

Piranesi enthralled me because it brought up so many of my feelings around losing my worldview in my twenties. I can imagine that people who have not had to go through this experience will not be as amazed by how Clarke has conveyed it. She paints it precisely. She made me relive it.

Also, if you are not familiar with Plato and Lewis and Borges, you might not realize the ideas Clarke is playing with. You might be thinking about the Plot when she is thinking about the Meaning. It’s not a small thing for this author to add something fresh and exciting to a 3,000 year old conversation.

Finally, I loved the book because I loved the main character. His optimism, skepticism, precision, and earnestness totally won me over. I would have followed him on any adventure. But maybe you like your main characters to be powerful, in control, hardboiled. Maybe you did not feel what I felt, a love for his childlike goodness and sense of wonder. He made me feel acutely just how much I have lost by becoming modern, adult, and sophisticated. And that is the magic of the book.

112 people found this helpful

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  • Mark
  • 2020-09-17

Strange & Pointless

I read all the raving reviews so I went back & listened to it a 2nd time. I wanted more of “Johnathan Strange & Mr. Norrell” , but this is nothing like that. The world created in this book is not magical, but just boring. The narration was great. I wanted to like it after reading the reviews, but it just isn’t for me.

45 people found this helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 2021-02-02

Not for everyone, but exceptional

I cannot fault the negative reviews of this book or the disappointment some felt. They are right. Conversely, I agree with all of the glowing reviews and share that opinion. Why the dichotomy? The answer lies in the book. Some will see it as a disjointed tale of nothing as that is all their brain can make of it. Others can see the door Clarke painted, because it is one they have been searching for. I hope you can see it and walk through it. If you cannot, it is not your fault, nor are you wrong. This simply is not the medium you need to reopen the door within yourself. Perhaps it is too late, but I hope you do not stop searching.

37 people found this helpful

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  • AMZ customer
  • 2020-09-16

Never heard a story like this one, but hoped to

I’ve been waiting for this story for so long, even though I had no idea what Susanna Clarke would craft next. But here she is, offering yet another world that is complex and eerie but beautiful and worthy of spending time in. Piranesi and his labyrinth will break your heart then put it back together again. ‘The beauty of the House is immeasurable; it’s kindness infinite.’

27 people found this helpful

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  • Evan Holloway
  • 2020-10-06

Excellent narration of an excellent story.

Chiwetel Ejiofor gives a wondrous voice to Susanna Clarke's beautiful prose. The story is fantastical and moving, gentle and mysterious, and Mr. Ejiofor's pacing and character development add even more layers of complexity and wonder.

I will happily listen to this again and again.

15 people found this helpful

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  • Brody w.
  • 2020-09-16

Hauntingly Beautiful

I love this book. it was deep and beautiful and sad. I finished it in one day and this story will stay with me forever.

14 people found this helpful

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  • Timothy
  • 2020-09-26

An instant classic

It has become increasingly rare to be able to experience a new classic just as it has been produced. Piranesi is one of those classics. Like the Eleanor Rigby, Alice in Wonderland, The Little Prince, Guernica or Gymnopédie, you are immediately aware from the first moment of contact that you are in the presence of something profound and lasting that is going to remain part of our collective awareness for many, many years to come.

Piranesi is a mysterious, touching wonderment, a poetic and visionary masterpiece. Reading it creates a dream world within that continues to unfold and resonate with your own dreams and questions long after you have put the book down. Susanna Clarke is a master wordsmith at the peak of her craft, leaving out all unnecessary descriptions and explanations, allowing the visions to stand for themselves and the questions to arise of their own accord and seek their own answers within your awareness. And ultimately it is a bittersweet celebration of the poignant beauty and mystery of simply being. The fact that she managed to create Piranesi while suffering from chronic fatigue syndrome makes the achievement all the more amazing.

Serendipitously, this exquisite poetic fable is here further enhanced by Chiwetel Ejiofor’s narration. His diction, presentation and emotion are all perfect. Once you have heard it, it would be impossible to imagine anyone else doing Piranesi justice. Both the book itself and this audiobook version of it are classics for the ages.

13 people found this helpful

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  • Avast Reader
  • 2020-09-16

Magnificent

A magical book, almost a fairy tale, with amazing writing enhanced by perfect narration. Relatively short but massive in its weight. I really loved this story.

12 people found this helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 2020-09-17

Random Scenes Strung Together

Do not both reading this book. The author has strung together random scenes and not bothered to create a story. It's a complete mess.

10 people found this helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 2020-11-12

Stilted and unfortunate

While well written, the story wasn't gripping. If you are looking for a sequel to Jonathan Livingston Seagull, then you're in luck

9 people found this helpful

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  • Angelina_H
  • 2021-09-24

Delight to reading

Still not sure what I read. It was just magic. But I would not hesitate to read and reread. A feel good book with some scares. Difficult to describe .. just try it for yourself :)