The Artist as Mystic is a set of lyric conversations between aphorists Yahia Lababidi and Alex Stein. These conversations constitute what Australians call a 'Songline'—a set of sacred songs that allow the reader/listener to navigate through an unknown terrain, in this case, populated by the tortured and ecstatic souls of the poets; Kafka, Baudelaire, Nietzsche, Rilke, Kierkegaard and Ekelund.
The tortured poets are masterfully evoked in this very fine work of biography and criticism. But these writings are more than the sum of notes on a page, they are song. The Artist as Mystic passes the test of all great writing, not only to delight, but to leave us knowing something of the subject, and ourselves, that we hadn't considered before.
Praise for The Artist as Mystic
"Few writers pay such passionate due to their literary forebears as Yahia Lababidi, and in these conversations he summons up the great seers—among them Kafka, Nietzsche, Baudelaire—with an immediacy and a vividness that make them seem his, and our, contemporaries."
John Banville—winner of the Man Booker Prize 2005 and the Franz Kafka Prize 2011
"I have never encountered a book like The Artist as Mystic and I'm still not convinced that any modern person could be as reflective and erudite as Yahia Lababidi. But whether Lababidi is real or fictitious, the pleasures of this book are undeniable. It provides intimate insights into writers such as Nietzsche, Kafka, Kierkegaard and Rilke and offers the deepest intellectual rewards of its own."
David Bezmozgis, author of The Free World
"Yahia Lababidi has no patience for easy bows and judicious curtseys. He gives intimate brotherly address to the writers who have made him and, doing so, recovers the sense of mattering--the passion--that has always fired the deepest reading, and the writing that lasts. Much heart here, but also a shrewd experienced acuity and an irresistible grace of expression."
Sven Birkerts—author of The Other Walk: Essays and The Gutenberg Elegies