Nepal, Sept. 22 -- There are books we like because with their dazzling beauty, they make us say 'wow!'. Others, far fewer in number, weave in an element of surprise or novelty so thought-provoking, we can just whisper a soft 'Oh!' Matt Haig's twelfth novel 'How to Stop Time' is one of the latter.

In Haig's novel, his 439-year-old protagonist Tom Hazard is sad, lonely and-in his own words-very, very old. He suffers from anageria, a genetic disorder causing him to age at a sluggish rate that astounds and terrifies ordinary mortals around him. Growing up in unforgiving 16th century England, his family pays, again and again, the dues for his bizarre appearance. Once, his darling daughter asks him, "Are you Satan, father?"

After losing his m...