Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Review: The Kindly Ones by Jonathan Littell

Today in January Magazine’s fiction section, contributing editor Tony Buchsbaum reviews The Kindly Ones by Jonathan Littell. Says Buchsbaum:
While I was waiting for an advance copy of Jonathan Littell's novel The Kindly Ones, winner of the 2006 Prix Goncourt, I satisfied my curiosity by reading articles about it and interviews with its author (in which he came across as prissy and mean-spirited: it was made clear that once he answers a question in one interview, he won't answer it again in another). Anyway, when it finally arrived in the mail, I dove right in.

Then promptly hit a submerged boulder that all but snapped my neck.

By any measurement, this is not a lightweight book. Measured page-wise, it's a 975-page behemoth. Measured plot-wise, it's a complex, detail-laden brick that's a memorable -- but far from great -- read. The subject matter is controversial, unpleasant, even incendiary. Its author is an American who wrote the book in France, in French (that's what qualified it for the Goncourt).
The full review is here.

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