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ISBN 978-1-909585-26-3
First published March 2018; 184pp; paperback with flaps; 198 x 129 mm;
£8.99
Click here to read a pdf excerpt.
Will Eaves is the author of four novels and two collections of poems. He was Arts Editor of the Times Literary Supplement from 1995 to 2011, and now teaches at Warwick University.
 
Will Eaves  Murmur
 
Shortlisted for the 2018 Goldsmiths Prize

‘At this uncertain cultural moment arrives Will Eaves’s remarkable new novel Murmur – a novel of both science and subjective consciousness, painfully aware of the shortcomings of the act of narration ... Murmur’s transgressive power lies at the level both of language and of structure ... Will Eaves has achieved one of the pinnacles of novelistic endeavour: he has given deep thought to human experience, and in doing so brought to life the “self-conscious wonder” of thought itself.’
     – Sam Byers, Times Literary Supplement

‘The premise is startlingly ambitious: what if we could think our way into Alan Turing’s dreams? It’s the sort of thing Turing himself might have attempted as he tried to move between minds, questing for limits of shared comprehension. But a novelist imagining the unconscious of a genius and finding words for his visions – can that be wise? Yes, if the writer is Will Eaves. Scrupulous, humane, sad and strange, [Murmur] is as bracingly intelligent as it is brave.
   . . . Huge efforts are being made in contemporary universities to foster dialogues between arts and sciences. In this, as in most things he touched, Turing leapt over boundaries, barely noticing that they were there. He was a philosopher and a psychologist, as well as a computational mathematician and biologist. Eaves conducts narrative experiments that honour that legacy. He knows that Turing’s theories of consciousness have implications for fiction, and that fiction can operate at the frontiers of what we know about the workings of our minds.’
     –  Alexandra Harris, Guardian (full review here)

Murmur is a poignant meditation on the irrepressible complexity of human nature and sexuality, and a powerful indictment of the cowardice and groupthink that sustain state-sanctioned barbarism.’
     – Houman Barekat, Irish Times

‘In the space of just 176 pages we are whisked on a dizzying trip through [Turing/Alec Pryor’s] musings on mathematics, machines, consciousness, desire, sexuality, transformation and loss, as well as on his own past. Glancing inside this mind is like flickering between a hundred radio channels, all of which are broadcasting a great scientist or philosopher speaking intimately about their work ... No one can be sure of what went through Turing’s mind in the final months before his suicide, but Murmur – a weaving, witty text packed with insight about the future – feels entirely believable.’
     – Hilary Lamb, Engineering & Technology 

‘A marvellous and compelling book, on a subject of huge importance and scandal’
     – Bernard O’Donoghue

Murmur is a profound meditation on what machine consciousness might mean, the implications of AI, where it will all lead. It’s one of the big stories of our time, though no one else has treated it with such depth and originality.’
     – Peter Blegvad

‘[Murmur] has achieved the holy grail of modern prose: conveying consciousness ... Even if it were merely another tale about a courageous man or woman overcoming the odds and discovering the fruits of love, nature and memory, it would still be a very original handling. In taking those themes and weaving them with our anxieties about the future, it is among the first and best of its kind.’
     – Oscar Yuill, Review 31 (full review here)

‘For all that the writing is excellent (as we have come to expect with Will Eaves); and for all that the book grapples with a veritable menagerie of “worthy” ideas (there are so many more we could have discussed at length in this review); and for all that it provides another worthy voice to consider in the ongoing conversations surrounding artificial intelligence – none of these are really what the book is “all about”, or what readers should take away as being the most important aspect of Murmur. Because ultimately, what it all comes down to is that this is a novel about love. And it is the way in which Eaves presents this most human of emotions, that really makes this novel truly intelligent.’
     – Nothing in the Rule Book (full review here)

Taking its cue from the arrest and legally enforced chemical castration of the mathematician Alan Turing, Murmur is the account of a man who responds to intolerable physical and mental stress with love, honour and a rigorous, unsentimental curiosity about the ways in which we perceive ourselves and the world. Formally audacious, daring in its intellectual inquiry and unwaveringly humane, Will Eaves’s new novel is a rare achievement.

The opening section of Murmur was shortlisted for the 2017 BBC National Short Story Award. A recording of Blake Ritson reading this piece is available to listen to or download from the BBC radio iPlayer site here.


Also by Will Eaves and available from CB editions:

The Absent Therapist (shortlisted for the 2014 Goldsmiths Prize)

‘A miniature but infinite novel, and unlike anything I’ve read before. It’s just achingly good.’
     – Luke Kennard

‘The whole book is like someone deeply charismatic and charming daring you not to find them insane. It’s wonderful.’
     – Nicholas Lezard, Guardian (full review here)

The Inevitable Gift Shop (shortlisted for the 2016 Ted Hughes Award)

‘It’s like a conversation with an extraordinarily wise friend: surprising, tender, funny and profound.
     – Michelle de Kretser

‘Penetratingly clever and often quite moving and extremely charming, border-crossing uncategorisable writing ... there’s something holistic about it, in the way it enacts the absolute continuity between inner and outer life, what we feel what we think what we do.’
     – Patrick McGuinness