Read as part of CBR13Bingo: Libations.
Truthfully, this should be a “White Whale” read. I’ve been putting this one off for years and I further buried it when I wasn’t impressed with the beginning of Herman Koch’s Dear Mr. M. In fact, I probably wouldn’t have picked up a copy had I not been stuck at a bookstore with money burning a hole in my pocket and nothing else looking appealing.
Sometimes, I make bad decisions regarding impulse book purchases.
This is not one of those times.
I’m not sure what I expected, or what the naysayers expected, when they picked this up. But this book hits you. It’s textured in ways that feel almost impossible until the payoffs come flying at you like fireworks.
It’s really tough to describe what the book is about, even more so without spoilers. I think at the heart of it, it’s about family. The banal ways we get through the days. The problems when those ways are disrupted. How we try to cling to normalcy even when our world is collapsing around us. And how something seemingly so normal as going out to dinner reveals a lot about who we are.
Herman Koch is interested in excavating every kind of cultural exchange and understanding in order to help the reader understand why humans do what they do in context. Some find this tedious. I found it fascinating, especially with how he accelerates the plot. All up to its explosive, if slightly disappointing conclusion.
I was in a bit of a reading slump before this. The books I read prior were good, just overly familiar. This one slapped me in the face. An excellent read. Maybe the best fiction of the year.