Friday, 29 November 2013

The Sweetness of Life by Paulus Hochgatterer

In the Austrian town of Furth am See, a six year old girl finds her grandfather dead, with his head smashed and all. The girl stops speaking after the shocking discovery. She taken for visits to a child psychiatrist who tries to make her speak. Who killed the grandfather and why? Will the child speak and reveal if she knows something? 

I was looking for a book based in Austria for the German Literature Month event, I had a choice between Greed by Elfriede Jelinek and The Sweetness of life by Paulus Hochgatterer, both available in the local library. Greed by Noble prize winning author looked like something heavy that would need sometime to ingest the subject, on the contrary The Sweetness is a slim volume and is a murder investigation something that I would read in a night. But it is not so. The Sweetness is also a heavy disturbing book. 

The story starts with the girl finding the dead grandfather which is disturbing and moves on to Horn, a child psychiatrist. We get to meet all his patients, from the aggressive man who takes out on his wife and children and comes running to the psychiatrist to get a get out of jail free card, to the young mother who believes that her baby is the devil. We also meet Kovacs who is supposed to be investigating this case. There is the first person narrative of a disturbed boy on what he and his brother are up to after they face their father's wrath. While I was immediately drawn into the story and lives of these people, the fact that there isn't much investigation either by Kovacs or Horn slowly lost my interest in the story. I didn't guess the killer and there is a nice twist in the end. 

Translated from German by Jamie Bulloch

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