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I had previously recommended the novel Het Diner by Herman Koch and on this post, I would like to recommend Geachte Heer M by the same author.
Geachte Heer M is a combination of stories. First, you are introduced to the story of Mr. M whom the narrator is observing and critically judging. Mr. M is a writer whose moment of fame was with the bestselling novel Payback about the disappearance of a high school teacher. After that novel, he has written a couple of others that deal with the war, but these never live up to the fame of Payback and the writer seems to be conflicted because of this.
The fictional novel Payback is based on the true story (within the novel) of the disappearance of Jan Landzaat and the suspicion that two teenage students of his were responsible. Although the case was never solved nor was the body ever found, Mr. M creates a fictional version of how the teenagers planned and executed the murder.
There is also the actual story of the events leading up to the disappearance of Jan Landzaat like his affair with Laura, one of the students suspected of having killed him. Laura is part of a close group of friends who are your typical teenagers. They like to spend time together, support each other in their time of need, and have issues with their parents.
The novel builds up the suspense to the point where the narrator and Mr. M meet and the two story lines intersect to a very surprising and unexpected ending. Like with Het Diner, Koch is consistently keeping the narration interesting and slowly building up the suspense. The language isn’t complicated which makes this a very recommendable read!
The following video is a short reading from Herman Koch. The sound is not incredibly good which makes it a challenging (but very doable) listening practice.
Have you read this novel? If so, what is your opinion of it?
de bibliothecaresse– librarian
het hapje– snack or bite to eat
teleurstellen– to disappoint
verwachten– to expect
zwijgen– to be quiet
verzorgen– to take care