The first time I read Elliot Perlman’s Seven Types of Ambiguity I was very impressed by the fact that the same story could be recounted by several different narrators without a dull moment, cover to cover. This novel gives new meaning to the concept of “repetition with a difference.” Perlman was also very effective in the art of subtlety: showing how a relatively insignificant event could assume enormous proportions, affecting the lives of the main characters. Seven Types of Ambiguity is, above all, a psychological thriller. It tells the story of Simon’s obsessive love for his former college girlfriend, Anna, who left him ten years earlier. But the novel’s strength in creating dramatic tension out of a relatively small psychological event also turned out to be a stumbling block the second time I read it. Because, ultimately, Simon was not a compelling character. In fact, none of the main characters were. This novel is an absolute masterpiece in layering its narration in concentric circles around a main event through radically different points of view with distinct personalities and voices. Yet, in my estimation, Seven Types of Ambiguity wasn’t as strong in creating three-dimensional characters. For a novel built upon psychological suspense and the strength of its characterizations, this is a weakness that can’t be completely overlooked.
Claudia Moscovici, literaturesalon