Once a celebrated writer, M had his greatest success with a suspense novel based on a real-life disappearance. Read more...
Once a celebrated writer, M had his greatest success with a suspense novel based on a real-life disappearance. It told the story of a history teacher who went missing one winter after having a brief affair with a beautiful student of his. The teacher was never found. Upon publication, M's novel was a runaway bestseller, one that marked his international breakthrough.
That was years ago, and now M's career is fading. But not when it comes to his bizarre, seemingly timid neighbor who keeps a close eye on him and his wife. Why?
From alternating points of view, where no one is to be trusted, Herman Koch weaves together an intricate tale of a writer in decline, a teenage couple in love, a missing teacher, and a single book that entwines all of their fates. Thanks to M's novel, supposedly a work of fiction, everyone seems to be linked forever, until something unexpected spins the "story" off its rails.
With ever increasing tension, his signature sardonic wit and world-renowned sharp eye for human failings, Herman Koch once again spares nothing and no one in his gripping new novel, a barbed performance that suspends readers in the mysterious space between fact and fiction.
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2016-07-25
- Reviewer: Staff
The Dutch author of The Dinner keeps the reader pleasantly off balance in a tale about a fading novelist and the crime that inspired the book that brought him fame. At first, the aging Mr. M, who lives with his “lovely, young” and “self-effacing” wife and three-year-old daughter, is observed only through the cool eyes of his younger downstairs neighbor, whom M consistently fails to recognize outside of the apartment building. Later, the misanthropic M gets his own chapters in the spotlight as he considers disposing of the middle-aged housewives attending a library book-signing or engages in fisticuffs with a rival at an authors’ dinner. Other characters taking their moment in the spotlight include M’s wife, Ana, and the two young inspirations for M’s novel, Herman and Laura, who may or may not have done away with their high school history teacher. All have motives and feelings that are more twisted than one first suspects. Koch cleverly lays out the pieces of his puzzle, letting first one pattern and then another emerge, and leaving the final piece in reserve until the last few pages. His sardonic sense of humor and dark perspective on human failings give the novel a greater, more satisfying depth than the usual thriller. (Sept.)