Centuries of June

Set in the bathroom of an old house just before dawn, Centuries of June (2011) is a black comedy about a man who is attempting to tell the story of how he ended up on the floor with a hole in his head. But he keeps getting interrupted by a series of suspects—eight women lying in the bedroom just down the hall. Each woman tells a story drawn from five centuries of American myth and legend in a wild medley of styles and voices. Centuries of June is a romp through history, a madcap murder mystery, an existential ghost story, and a stunning tour de force at once ingenious, sexy, inspiring, and ultimately deeply moving.


REVIEWS

"It’s become clear with his third novel that Keith Donohue not only has raced to the forefront of fantasy fiction, but also he may well be its pacesetter. Following on the heels of acclaimed predecessors, “The Stolen Child” and “Angels of Destruction,” Mr. Donohue this time takes readers on a mesmerizing journey through time, all told primarily from the confines of ... a bathroom?" -- Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

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"..part ghost story, part psychological mystery and part vaudeville show. Think Scheherazade by way of “Tristram Shandy” by way of “The Sixth Sense.” Or, since restatement and self-correction are essential to this narrative experiment, try “The Decameron” by way of “If on a winter’s night a traveler” by way of “Groundhog Day.” Throw in “A Night at the Opera,” too, since Donohue enlists both Groucho and Harpo (the latter in the role of a house cat) to remind us of the perilous way his characters are piling up." -- Jon Clinch, The Washington Post

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"...echoing everything from the Marx Brothers to Dickens, Native American folk tales, Lewis Carroll, noir detective fiction, Borges and Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Italo Calvino, Shakespeare, Arthur Miller, Mikhail Bulgakov, Haruki Murakami, the Ramayana, and other sources. Not that this matters — the product here is uniquely Donohue, and the craft seamless in the spinning of an absorbing skein of yarns in a marvelous display of voice weaving together to form a single tapestry: a “parti-colored utterance” (to quote Annie Dillard) unfolding about love, mortality, men and women, memory, family, and the fundamental force of storytelling." -- Ed Taylor, Buffalo News

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“VERDICT: Donohue’s tour de force blends aspects of time travel and reincarnation genres into a witty whole. With a touch of David Mitchell and Audrey Niffenegger, but a witty style uniquely the author’s own, this novel about a clueless man, who may in some future life get it right, is a pleasure to read.”—Library Journal

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"Donohue’s faultless eye for character and keen sense of humor keeps what could easily become a muddled mess pristine, with members of his quorum shining individually but also acting as cogs in the larger story’s machinery. There are moments when the reader is left to wonder how things can possibly come together, but it’s worthwhile to trust Donohue’s narrators as they lead this puzzling and greatly satisfying trip." -- Publishers Weekly

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"Centuries of June is a romp, and though Jack stumbles through it addled with incomprehension, the humor of its suspended animation echoes indeed Beckett’s dark comedy; likewise, the fanciful tales, happy violence, and sensuous, twining language recall the gaiety of Tristram Shandy’s endless diversions, and that earlier novel’s happy, delaying struggle with death’s specter. Unfortunately, Jack seems too slow to keep up with the tales and their allusions. In each interlude between tales he wanders through his house, wondering the same questions about what time it must be, where the cat may have gone, and why, once more, did he find himself brained and dying on the bathroom floor?" -- Rain Taxi Review of Books


Interview with Bill Thompson's "Eye on Books."


The gorgeous cover of the German edition: Sommernachts frauen is the "Summernight's Women."