A Tiler's Afternoon

A Tiler's Afternoon


One grey November morning a friend rang Torsten Bergman and told him of a job on a house-conversion. Torsten arrived at the empty house in his decrepit car and got to work retiling the bathroom – the tiles were there already – while he waited for someone to turn up and make it all official.

So begins this story of one day in an old man’s life: a day of work, of day-dreaming, of memories, of chance encounters (for men and women, not to mention children, burst in on his solitary tiling). And as he put away his tools that evening, there came also a discovery that might, after all, hold a clue to the elusive Meaning of Life.

In A Tiler’s Afternoon, Lars Gustafsson has written an enchanting tale, full of insight, wisdom and gentle irony, sensitively conveyed in the childlike simplicity of its telling, as the tiler’s life-story is gradually filled in from his memories. Here is a book that in short compass embraces a whole rich microcosm.


  • A most beautiful book – its theme, fantasy as a form of escape
    Gerhard Mack, Die Welt

About the author

Lars Gustafsson

Lars Gustafsson was born in Västerås, Sweden, in 1936. After taking a doctor’s degree at the University of Uppsala in 1962 he became editor of the leading literary periodical Bonniers Litterära Magasin. His publications reflect a broad range of interest and expertise, extending through philosophy, history, sociology and mathematics, as well as literary criticism, poetry, short stories and novels.

His fiction published by Harvill includes The Death of a Beekeeper, The Tale of a Dog, and A Tiler's Afternoon, which was shortlisted for the Dublin International Impac Award and was described by the Independent as ‘a beautifully conceived poetic allegory about an artist's life'.
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