A woman’s life is upended after two strange sources report seeing her doppelgänger; a magisterial mélange of hard-core biology, philosophy, and octopuses around the world.

There’s no end to the catalogue of ways humans suffer, and manage to inflict suffering: illness and injury, psychic suffering, material deprivation, heartache, loneliness, catastrophe, separation, history, bad luck.

Consider for a moment the possibility that our very selves—our centred, internal, ever-present cluster of backstories we identify with the letter I—comprise as much everything we haven’t done as everything we’ve done. Everyone we haven’t become as much as who it is we find we have. Can anything useful be gleaned from the premise?

Many contemporary novels, however enjoyable, seem content tracing the doings and events and psychologies corralled inside their clearly delineated piece of fictional terrain. Other novels, however, throw open the windows and let the world’s chaos blow throw a narrative.