I loved this, the first time I read it, and it’s stayed with me ever since — not all the details, but an overall impression of great craft in the writing (and no doubt on the part of the translator, too) and a mystery which, once solved, seemed amazing. It’s not a format I’d usually like, since it doesn’t follow a single character or handful of characters through a story, watching them develop and react; instead, each chapter is linked to the previous, but has different characters. Some of the characters, you just don’t know how they end up, or you only see a little glimpse of it. Each story has its own arc, arousing sympathy, horror, curiosity, anger.
It’s a great book — not a collection of short stories, as you find once you’re halfway through. No: it cleverly unravels the mystery in little pieces, revealing it piece by piece until at the end you say — ah!
I won’t say more about it, because the plot needs to be discovered for itself. The writing is beautiful, though; each word feels like it’s in its exact right place, carefully laid out and planned in advance like one of the carpets made by the people of the title. It’s almost fable-like in some places — and honestly, I found that my suspension of disbelief didn’t matter. It was all so clever, and it expected the reader to disbelieve, to feel staggered by the scales, the things suggested.
It’s great. I find it unforgettable.