For a fascinating gaze at (compulsive) character portrayal you will find 'The Insult' by Rupert Thomson superb. I began the book after I had finished writing an onerous business assignment when I was hungry for indulgent rather than obligatory reading. I finished it within a couple of days, unable to stop reading the last couple of hundred pages into the early hours of the final morning. It is a book written in three or four stages, with a quite different approach to sentence length, style and consciousness at each stage. It is particularly easy to zoom through the first stage (which I presume the author intended for the reader), because the sentences are very short and unfussy in both grammar and vocabulary (rather like the early work of Ian McEwan), and half way through this part I was almost tempted to abandon the book, thinking nothing much was coming. Thank Buddha I didn't. Thomson was simply putting down his first layer and drawing me, the unsuspecting first-time reader of any of his works, across it. Then he took me on quite a ride. This man can craft and tell a story - the latter part of the book contains some of the best, flowing prose and human insights I have ever read. As one commentator (on the inside cover) puts it: "When someone can write as well as Thomson, it makes you wonder why other people bother." Because the book changes so noticeably at certain points, you are tempted to react as if watching a badly edited movie, but it's worth hanging in there. I thought the middle stages of the book, where the blind man partly loses grip on reality, rather caused me to lose grip a bit too (hence the dropped star in my rating), but I do not present this as an injurious criticism of Insult. It's a brilliant book. I'm excited to have discovered Thomson and I'm now off to read more of his work.