Books / Debut Books

FUN by Paolo Bacilieri
Published by SelfMadeHero

Professor Pippo Quester – respected novelist and public intellectual – is writing a history of the crossword puzzle. Together with his protege, the Disney Comics writer Zeno Porno, he unearths stories of pioneering editors, genius cruciverbalists, and eminent compilers, among them Margaret Farrar, the so-called “first lady of crosswords”, and the literary giants Georges Perec and Vladimir Nabokov.

As Professor Quester and Zeno Porno explore the crossed destinies of comics and crosswords, the story sweeps from New York in the 1920s, through wartime Britain and mid-century Milan, to 1970s Paris. But the sudden appearance of Mafalda, an enigmatic former student carrying a heavy grudge and a handmade pistol, returns Quester sharply to the present, and the two writers become entangled in a puzzle of their own.

At once an impeccably researched history and a playful literary crime story, Paolo Bacilieri’s FUN is a breathtakingly inventive graphic novel that explores the intersection between high and low culture, the borderline between coincidence and cryptic communication, and the strange power of one of the world’s most popular pastimes.