From the Publisher
"THE TESSERACT has the traits of a thriller, but it's also a love story, a character study, a portrait of life among Manila's street kids, even an experiment in narration...a feverish, affecting, altogether captivating story....What really makes THE TESSERACT so gripping is the author's dazzling performance as a storytellernot the bloody climaxes per se but the innovative techniques and deft changes of pace with which they are related. This is one of those rare novels that can be read for thrills but also taken apart and examined the way a jeweler does a fine watch. Garland also lavishes his characters with quirks that ring true, outbursts of human oddity that transform a moment that most authors would rush past into something memorable...all but flawless, a tour de force of brilliant narration and psychological acuity." The Washington Post
"Virtuosic" The New York Times Book Review
"THE TESSERACT feels.... like a Quentin Tarantino or John Woo movie, seasoned with some Graham Greene. It is as thoroughly assured a performance as T and just as violently entertaining. Taut, nervous and often bloody, THE TESSERACT is a more experimental work than The Beach: elliptical and Rashomon–like in structure, where The Beach was linear, cinematic in its effects, where The Beach was more conventionally literary. . . . Mr. Garland not only does a completely convincing job of sketching in these characters’ lives in a series of quick, deftly drawn strokes, but he also fluently cuts back and forth between their stories, building suspense the way a film editor does, even as he is tying his disparate heroes’ tales together with dozens of overlapping motifs. . . . As he demonstrated in The Beach, Mr. Garland is a natural at orchestrating violent set pieces with deadpan panache, but he also proves in this novel that he can create odd, oddly sympathetic people with unexpected inner lives. . . . the novel’s suspense [has] a human cost and caculation...Garland is...persuasive a storyteller...gifted a writer...He has written a powerful if flawed novel, a novel that...reconfirms his prodigious and diverse talents.” Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times Book Review
“[C]omplex and intriguing...subtle fiction [that] has nothing to do with the higher math and a lot to do with good old-fashioned storytelling about big, old-fashioned themes—the mysteries of love and violence and death, the strange workings of fate. . . . THE TESSERACT marks a significant departure from, and growth since, The Beach...Like a tesseract, it is composed of three dimensions that, in the end, inevitably imply a larger and more significant fourth. . . The book is so cunningly constructed that you can’t discuss any of these three narratives in too much detail without giving away the connections. Suffice it to say that each story is delicately observed and ingeniously linked to the others. . . . I’m fairly sure that this book, like its author, is the thing itself.” Daniel Mendelsohn, New York Observer
In The Tesseract, non sequiturs rule....To some extent, all the characters...are haunted by...events they can't see coming that change their lives completely...
The New York Times Book Review
...Elliptical and Rashomon-like in structure....Mr. Garland...proves in this novel that he can create odd, oddly sympathetic people with unexpected inner lives....a powerful if flawed novel, a novel that for all its lapses reconfirms Mr. Garland's prodigious and diverse talents.
The New York Times
...Garland's skill at creating tension keeps the novel driving forward with the force of a thriller.
Garland is a gifted storyteller whose use of language is reminiscent of Graham Greene's. His ambitious second novel is like the charm carried by one of its characters: at once consoling and intoxicatingly alien.
...[T]here are only two hackneyed phrases that fit The Tesseract: Interesting failure. Sophomore slump....[It] substitutes lots of self-conscious flourishes and posturing for a coherent plot and firmly rooted characters. Even the novel's obscure title annoys the reader.
The Tesseract is just an evening's read and seems less substantial than The Beach, but it exerts the same unsettling grip on your imagination.
Garland achieves a sort of narrative origami, whereby space and time are folded back on themselves to create a four-dimensional figure the tesseract making the book fascinating and somewhat maddening.
New York Magazine
After his best-selling The Beach, Garland visits the Philippines to track three sets of characters: gangsters, middle-class parents, and street kids.
The Missouri Review
Garland's second novel, following his riviting debut, The Beach, has convinced me that he is the best thirtyish writer in English today.
A pointlessly elaborate portrait of disparate lives coming together in the Philippines, by English novelist Garland (The Beach). At a certain point, obscurity grows more annoying than intriguing-when, for example, something seemingly complex stands revealed as not just simple but actually dull. This very simple story is complicated as much as possible in the telling-but for no apparent reason.
Don Pepe is a gangster in Manila. A half-breed Filipino with European pretensions, he controls various rackets connected with the shipping trade. He meets to discuss business with Sean, an Englishman who owns the freighter Karaboujan, now anchored in Manila's harbor. Sean's partner Alan was killed by Don Pepe's henchmen for refusing to pay protection money to Don Pepe. Sean is strapped for cash as the result of a bad insurance claim, and he tries to convince Don Pepe to allow him one free passage through the Philippines so that he can recoup his losses and avoid bankruptcy. Don Pepe refuses to yield; Sean has to flee for his life. He ends up shooting it out with Don Pepe's men in the house of Corazon, an old woman who is a complete stranger to him. Corazon, mother of Rosa and grandmother of Raphael and Lita, is killed in the crossfire in her own kitchen. Out of bullets, Sean tries to escape while using Rosa as a human shield, but she pleads with him to let her go and he does, after which he's shot dead. Raphael and Lita witness the killing of their grandmother and Sean. They are grateful to be alive, as is Rosa, although everyone is sorry about Corazon-even Don Pepe's gunman.
Tedious, convoluted, pompous. Garland's narration is so oblique that his story doesn't even begin to cohere untilthe very last chapter-which, it must be said, does little to justify the effort of reading him.