Sunday, 7 February 2016

Look Who's Back ~ Timur Vermes

Pages: 352
Read: January 2016

This isn’t my normal genre of novel, but then again I’m struggling to put it in a genre.  Amazon has (at the time of writing this) gone with ‘Contemporary Fiction’ and I’ll go along with the vagueness of that.  This book made me laugh, it made me cringe and it made me think.  I picked this up after I saw it hauled in a YouTube video (yes, I am a marketers dream) Emma summarised the plot during that Waterstones haul and once I’d looked at it on Amazon for about the tenth time I accepted that I was going to need to buy it to satisfy my curiosity.

Trying to avoid any spoilers, the premise is that Adolf Hitler wakes up in modern day Germany and is mistaken for a scarily accurate impersonator who refuses to break character and quickly grabs the attention of a television producer.  With no proof to his identity Hitler tries to adjust to modern day life; from discovering the internet, social media and cash machines to Germany being run by a woman and he’s getting the attention of more and more people everytime he speaks.

Despite the time travel in the opening pages this isn’t a fantasy book, the hows and whys of those first few pages aren’t actually ever explained.  At first I found that quite irritating, I wanted to know! How has one of history’s most notorious characters just re-appeared, and why now and why only him?  The more I read the more I seemed to forget about my initial gripe and enjoyed the actual point of the book.  A fictional exploration of a human reaction, every character the book is unaware of the spontaneous and very selective time travel thing that’s suddenly possible and knows that Adolf Hitler died in 1945 so when the masses laugh at his speeches on the telly and share his Youtube videos all over social media they’re doing so believing it’s all being done in a humorous, satirical manner but ultimately, intentionally or not Hitler’s message is getting shared again and that made this not only an interesting read but a thought provoking one.

The film adaptation "Er ist wieder da?" (the original German title) was a massive success in Germany in October 2015 so here's hoping there's a DVD release with English subtitles at somepoint.

It took me a while to read this, at around 360 pages it’s not massively long at all but it became a bit of a secondary book for me. It didn’t hook me in a way that made me resent putting it down but I was enjoying it enough to keep picking it back up. I’ve mentioned it to so many people over the few months it took me to read it; the plot premise has been met with many a quizzical look and started several unusual conversation so if you’re after something a little bit different I’d defiantly recommend adding this one to the ‘to be read’ list.