In The Geometer Lobachevsky, Duncan follows his interest in internationality and materiality, leading to unforeseeable connections between people and places. Set in the early 1950s, the story follows Soviet geometer (mathematician) Nikolai Lobachevsky who is a Glav Torf representative aiding Bord na Mona with a land survey. In Ireland on this state visit, he receives a letter from the MGB ordering him back to Leningrad for ‘a special appointment’. Immediately suspicious, he goes into hiding on a small island in the Shannon Estuary where he waits in the hope of some day returning safely home.
Following Duncan’s critically acclaimed Love Notes from a German Building Site (2019) and A Sabbatical in Leipzig (2020), Duncan’s themes of emigration, displacement and work connect Ireland with the world stage. Colm Toibin said of Love Notes: ‘Written in spare, exact prose … Duncan writes beautifully about cold weather, gruff manners, systems of hierarchy … A portrait of work [and] a picture of a sensibility’.