How to Paint a Dead Man
Italy in the early 1960s: a dying painter considers the sacrifices and losses that have made him an enigma, both to strangers and those closest to him.
He begins his last life painting, using the same objects he has painted obsessively for his entire career – a small group of bottles.
Not long afterwards, a blind girl tends his grave, trying to understand the world she can no longer see, and wondering whether the presence she feels nearby is the ‘Bestia’, the monstrous creature depicted in the altar of painting of her local church.
In Cumbria thirty years later, a landscape artist – who once wrote letters to the Italian recluse – finds himself trapped in the extreme terrain that has made him famous. And in present-day London, his daughter is struggling with the sudden loss of her twin brother while trying to curate an exhibition about the lives of the twentieth-century European masters, and finds herself drawn into a world of darkness and sexual abandon.
Covering half a century, Sarah Hall’s fourth novel is a fierce and brilliant study of art and its place in our lives. Written with passionate understanding for both the grand artistic folly and the small-scale creative triumph, How to Paint a Dead Man is a luminous and searching novel of extraordinary power.