When Will Self wrote Umbrella (Grove Press), he cast his lot with the high-Modernist pantheon – Joyce, T.S. Eliot, Woolf, & co. – by braiding a complex narrative out of collage, allusion, repetition, and stressed language. Self says that his tale of Audrey Death – a post-encephalitic patient in an English asylum – and her doctor was intended as an "assault on sentimental assumptions" about psychiatry, industrialization, and narrative itself. The result is a striking novel about loss, language, and perception after the First World War -- and a bold departure from the satirical mode he is best known for.
Read an excerpt from Umbrella.