Here come the man from the stars.

Tom McCarthy’s next novel, Men in Space, will be published abroad in September. 

Set in a Central Europe rapidly fragmenting after the fall of
Communism, "Men in Space" follows a cast of dissolute Bohemians,
political refugees, football referees, deaf police agents, assassins
and stranded astronauts as they chase a stolen icon painting from Sofia
to Prague and beyond. The icon’s melancholy orbit is reflected in the
various characters’ ellipses and near misses as they career
vertiginously through all kinds of space: physical, political,
emotional and metaphysical. What emerges is a vision of humanity adrift
in history, and a world in a state of disintegration.

3AM has an excerpt, and to tempt you there, here’s an excerpt-excerpt:

The first stage, after the boards have been gessoed and gilded and the
drawings transferred onto these, is painting the background colours. On
the day after Christmas Day, Ivan Mañásek lays out the materials he’ll
be using. His pigments he arranges in two rows, ranging from light to
dark, from zinc white on the upper row’s far left to lamp black on the
lower row’s far right. The brushes he stands hair-up in a jar beside
the phials. He’s using fine best-sable riggers: two each of numbers
zero, one and two, three each of numbers three through five and one
each of eight through fifteen. He cracks an egg over a bowl, lets it
run out onto his hand so that the white slips through the gaps between
his fingers, leaving the yolk resting in his palm. Then, pinching the
yolk between the thumb and first finger of his other hand, he lifts it
up, suspends it above another, smaller bowl and pricks it with a needle
so the orange liquid oozes from the skin, which he then throws away. To
the decanted yolk he adds roughly nine times its own volume of purified
water and three drops of vinegar. He stirs the solution, then transfers
it to the compartments of two ice cube trays, to which he adds the
pigments, one by one, by wetting a brush in the solution, dipping it
into a phial, letting it pick up flakes, then plunging these back into
the compartment. The Prussian blue, the terra verte and the raw and
burnt siennas are gritty and need to be ground down against glass. It’s
just like chopping up speed: he uses the same shaving mirror, hunched
over it, watching his own face becoming eclipsed by these powdery tones…


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