The Guard by Peter Terrin

This novel was written originally in Dutch but has been very well translated. I don’t know a word of Dutch, so I say that not on the basis of any technical knowledge, but on the basis that an unsettling, laconic style has been maintained throughout.

The plot is relatively simple, concerning people working as guards in a residential tower block. It seems to be set in the future, in a society full of menace and aridity. The characters are described with a strange superficiality. We pick things up mentioned in passing. There are hints at sexual activity, made by reference to weight and odour, rather than action. There is an obsessive focus on the part of the narrator on staying professional. It is as if the whole of human experience is being described in a car maintenance manual.

It is a very good and interesting novel, which I recommend highly.


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