Look who’s back – Timur Vermes – Book Review

Picked up this book as a recommendation on a podcast. Had come across this book and its peculiar cover a few times on Amazon, yet it did not pique my curiosity enough to pick it up. On this second recommendation, I chose to give it a try.

Amazon.com gives it four stars. In hindsight, that should have been a warning sign. Amazon.com ratings are often a very good thumb-rule for me to short-list books to read. Normally, I avoid anything that is not above 4, thanks to the wisdom of crowds or some such behavioural goobledygook. But the draw of the unique plot line made me disregard the rating.

I found the opening chapters funny enough, but somewhere after the first 10 chapters, I lost all interest in it. The humour is too dry and sparse. The events are repetitive. Following is a typical example of what transpires in each chapter.

  1. Hitler demands/mentions something.
  2. The people around him assume he is in character.
  3. They laugh.
  4. And a case of convenient miscommunication ensures that the plot moves ahead.

The original book is in German, and I’m not sure if the English edition is a case of lost in translation. The author also chooses to use a first person narrative. This is always a tricky device. I wonder if the story would have been more engrossing if the author had used a more traditional narrative. But then of course, we wouldn’t be able to know what Hitler was thinking all the time. Making Hitler as the narrator and spelling out the obvious, the writing felt too amateurish. It quickly became a case of show less, tell more. And the premise itself, after its initial novelty, quickly becomes convoluted. Imagine Hitler, or for that matter any other leader, waking up and realises that it is after over 50 years that he was last seen on Earth. What would his first question be?

Hitler: Is the war over?

Passer-by: Which war?

Hitler: The one with the Allied forces – Britain and USA.

Passer-by: Yes it is. The Allied Forces beat the crap out of the Nazis.

End of novel.

Even if I suspend my disbelief for a moment and agree that the people around him were just assuming that he was an actor simply portraying Hitler, I would imagine that Hitler was smart and sensible enough to realise that after fifty years, he is a lost cause. Or was he?

In the end, I chose not to go ahead with the book as I felt the rest of the book would contain more of the same events happening over and over again. However if you’re interested in knowing what happens to Hitler, have a look at Look Who’s Back. I, for one, will probably watch the movie instead.

Look who's back
Timur Vermes
mobi, paperback, hardcover

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