Look Who’s Back – Timur Vermes

  9780857052926So the jacket of this book is a bit of a giveaway for exactly who it is that is back – featuring possibly the most infamous side-parting in history – but that seems to be the only obvious thing about it! I mean, how would you expect a novel featuring a monster who appears to have been returned from the dead to turn out?

Most of the reviews I have seen of Look Who’s Back focus on how funny it is and they are right – it is a funny book.  But not so much laugh-out-loud funny for me – more of  an occasional wry smile – as the humour is more satirical than anything else.  To be honest a lot of it is so near the knuckle that I actually felt I had to give myself permission to find it funny…

The novel starts with Hitler waking up on a piece of waste ground and discovering that he is now in modern-day Germany.  He is, naturally, disoriented and virtually falls at the feet of the owner of a newspaper kiosk in a nearby park and this is where his integration into modern life really begins.  The kiosk owner, and all those he subsequently meets, think that he is an uncannily realistic lookalike – we are the only ones who know that he is the real thing – and he embarks on a comedy career.  Most of the humour comes from the way that other people’s perceptions of his actions clash with his real motivations – although it is definitely a very dark humour.  The satire is largely aimed at our reliance on and addiction to the media but, rather chillingly, we also see how easy it is to twist the everyday worries of perfectly ordinary people until they fit in with some very unpleasant beliefs.

It is quite hard to describe Look Who’s Back – aside from to say it is funny and is well-worth reading – and I think that your own personal views of society and modern-day politics will colour your opinion of this book more than it usually would.  I can imagine this provoking very lively discussions at many a reading group!

Jane

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2 thoughts on “Look Who’s Back – Timur Vermes

  1. Yes – I think ‘fascinating weird’ is the best way to describe it. Quite scary as well as you can see how a charismatic person can twist the world in their own favour…

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