Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Detective Story

Imre Kertesz

Noberl laureate. Slim volume here, really more of a novella than a novel. Focuses in on an aspect of political repression particularly in the Latin American context, studying a tale of police surveillance, arrest, torture and death. Much of the distinctive approach comes from centering the narrative not on the victims destroyed by the process but on some of the perpetrators, raising questions of how apparently conventional men can implement and facilitate this grim bureaucratic mechanism. There are some effective moments where the sheer everday nature of the repressive horror draws focus. On the whole, however, I’d say this element remains underdeveloped. Partly as a function of the length of the book, which raises a lot of questions but doesn’t fully express any of them. As well, there’s a tendency in the second half of the story whereby the family under surveillance gains more and more of the dramatic attention, to an extent bending the structure of the story uncomfortably.

It remains a well written acount with lots of striking moments and some effectively expressed themes, but the book is in the end feels slightly underwhelming, not as intense as it feels like it could be. On the evidence of this book Kertesz is clearly a competent writer, but it’s nt yet clear to be if he’s a great one.

Better than: Flow My Tears, the Policeman Said by Philip K. Dick
Worse than: Love and Shadows by Isabel Allende

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