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7 November 2016
Format: Mass Market PaperbackVerified Purchase
As the novel is translated from German, I thought I might as well read it in French rather than in English, having been warned by a friend that the writing was very poor, I wanted to believe that it might be the English translation that was poor. In fact I am pretty sure that the English version is probably far better even than the French: this is just dreadful. Dreadful in 2 translations can only mean that the original writing in German is the real culprit: this is an horribly badly written book. It beggars belief that it is the same author who was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize last year with the novella 'A whole Life'. I read then that novella and didn't think much of it but didn't notice anything amiss with the writing. In this latest novel, it Is simply painful, cheap, vulgar, tacky, full of expressions that would never have existed in the time that it is set (Austria in the 30's). In the first half people's bottom keeps being referred to in an odd, recurring manner. Whatever the subject, the author finds a way to insert reference to bottoms, like an unconscious obsession of his. The plot is your usual pre-second world war atmosphere, here in the city of Vienna, with the usual baddies and the rest. Freud is used as a character, it makes you cringe in embarrassment as it is so badly done. In fact I am a few pages from the end but I can't bear picking it up again and deal with the childish silly style. So whatever happened to main young character Franz in his tobacco shop, I don't care. So many more real writers to read instead.
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