My one previous experience with Per Elov Enquist was via his novel The Visit of the Royal Physician, and it wasn’t an entirely comfortable introduction. I puzzled over what to make of the book’s jagged, disjointed style and was troubled by its detached emotional tone. At the time I wondered whether it was down to author, or translator, but now I can say, quite confidently, that it’s the author’s style. The Parable Book, translated by Deborah Bragan-Turner, has much the same cool, conceptual flavour. It is, however, a rather different beast from the Royal Physician: whereas that was a clear historical novel, this book weaves between genres. Is it novel, autobiography, family memoir, confessional history or philosophical exploration? It is even more disorientating than the Royal Physician, but it makes its mark: there’s something fierce and vivid and urgent at its heart.