> Skip to content

A funny, erudite novel from one of the great European storytellers, with the process of writing and creation playfully at its heart.

Mac, over sixty and recently unemployed, lives on his wife’s earnings from her furniture restoration business. An avid reader, he decides at the age of sixty to keep a diary. Mac’s wife, Carmen, a dyslexic born of dyslexic parents, thinks he is simply wasting his time and risking sliding further into depression—but Mac persists, and is determined that this diary will not turn into a novel. However, one day, he has a chance encounter with a near neighbour, a highly successful author who once wrote a collection of enigmatic, wilfully obscure stories.…

Reviews

Vila-Matas’s wildly original novels are all investigations of whether or not originality in fiction is still possible; every nook and cranny of literary history is explored and interrogated, the margin of every great novel frantically scribbled in.

Morten Høi Jensen, Dublin Review of Book

[Vila-Matas] charges the various tensions in his hybridized book: the artificial nature of plot and the apparent triviality of day-to-day existence, how life imitates art and art imitates life… Mac and His Problem boasts an impressive architecture.

Eric Banks, Bookforum

Vila-Matas’s bouncy prose is the highlight of this lively ride through a writer’s mind.

Publishers Weekly

Diary, essay, thriller, conspiracy theory, posthumous memoir, novel—Vila-Matas uses all the materials to construct his latest metafictional fun house.

Kirkus

Playful and funny and among the best Spanish novelists.

Colm Toibin

Perhaps his best novel yet & instant bestseller in Spain: ‘Vila-Matas at his best’

El País

Read More

Formats & editions

  • EBook

    9780143788461

    April 16, 2019

    Random House Australia

    224 pages

    Online retailers

    • Amazon Kindle AU
    • iBooks
    • Google Play EBook AU
    • Kobo Ebook
    • Booktopia
    • eBooks
  • Trade Paperback

    9780143788454

    April 16, 2019

    Vintage Australia

    224 pages

    RRP $32.99

    Online retailers

    • Amazon
    • Angus & Robertson Bookworld
    • Booktopia
    • Dymocks
    • Abbey's Bookshop
    • Boomerang Books
    • Collins Booksellers
    • Books Kinokuniya
    • QBD
    • Readings
    • Robinsons Bookshop
    • The Nile
    Or

    Find your local bookstore at booksellers.org.au

Extract

1

I’m fascinated by the current vogue for posthumous books, and I’m thinking of writing a fake one that could appear to be “posthumous” and “unfinished” when it would, in fact, be perfectly complete. Were I to die during the writing process, the book really would be my “final, interrupted work,” and that would, among other things, ruin my great dream of becoming a falsifier. Then again, a beginner must be prepared for anything, and I am just that, a debutant. My name is Mac. Perhaps because I am only a beginner, the best and most sensible thing would be to wait a while before attempting anything as challenging as a fake “posthumous” book. Given my status as a writing novice, my priority will be not to launch straight into that “last” book or to create some other kind of fake, but simply to put pen to paper every day and see what happens. And then there might come a time when, feeling more prepared, I decide to make a stab at that book falsely interrupted by my death, disappearance, or suicide. For the moment, I will content myself with writing this diary, which I am starting today, feeling utterly terrified, not even daring to look in the mirror for fear of catching sight of my head hunched down inside my shirt collar.

Continue Reading
Book Clubs
Mac and His Problem Book Club Notes

This funny, erudite novel from one of the great European storytellers will have your book club dreaming of a trip to Barcelona.