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Big Read: Piranesi by Susanna Clarke

Caroline Heaton

Wed 22 November, 2023
11:00 am
- 12:00 pm GMT

Free – £4.00
Queen Square
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Get reading now for the November Big Read. A discussion lead by Caroline Heaton on Susanna Clarke’s award-winning novel Piranesi. The reader is initially immersed in an otherworldly universe of proliferating halls, washed by internal tides, and largely inhabited by statues, seabirds and the poignant remains of earlier inhabitants. And the narrator, Piranesi, is as much a voyager as the reader, as he maps his way companioned only by the erratic ‘Other’, who has enrolled Piranesi into his quest for Lost Wisdoms, but to what end?

Here’s some things to think about while you’re reading:

1. Why do you think Susanna Clarke chose the name Piranesi for her protagonist and the title of the book?

2. Among a number of creative sources, the ‘world-building’ in Piranesi subtly references C.S. Lewis’s Narnia series, notably The Magician’s Nephew. How did this influence your reading, and were you conscious of other creative sources?

3. Beginning very much in eco-fantasy mode, the novel ‘swerves’ genre some third of the way through. Did you find this deepened the book – or otherwise?

4. The two key characters, Piranesi and The Other are radically differentiated. How does Clarke deploy them to explore ethical questions?

5. The book is often a challenging read, but moves from its lyrical opening section, through darker revelations and the awareness of betrayal, to the depiction of a restorative relationship. Did you find the ending redemptive?


Big Read is FREE for BRLSI members and £4 for non-members. Please register or buy your ticket via the Book Tickets button, or just turn up on the day.

Image credit: Bloomsbury Publishing


Wed 22 November, 2023
11:00 am - 12:00 pm GMT
Free – £4.00
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