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ellinor

Ellinor's Litventures

This blog is about my literary adventures in different genres. I like variety in my reading and will read books from most genres but particulary book with some literary merit.

Das Ungeheuer - Terézia Mora

The 2013 winner of the "Deutscher Buchpreis" tells the story of Darius Kopp who is devastated after his wife's suicide. He starts on a roadtrip through Eastern Europe and Anatolia to find a place for her ashes. On his way he also reads his late wife's diary.

At first the book is a bit difficult to get into. Terézia Mora uses the upper half of the page to tell Darius's story. For the first ~80 pages the bottom half is empty. It is used for Flora's - the wife - diary. So after having started with Darius's story you then have to turn to the bottom of the page, read Flora's diary for ca. 200 pages and then go back to page 80 to continue with Darius. Fortunately the chapters are numbered so you know what to read next. Terézia Mora doesn't write anything like "Then he started reading the diary again". You will only find out about that after having read the diary.
The second reason the book is difficult to get into are the mental leaps in Darius's story. Ms Mora never uses quotations marks for direct speeches. When Darius's thoughts are told there's often a change in the narrator - from third person to first person and instantly back. This gets better after a while once you know what is happening. Once I had gotten used to this style I was hooked.

Das Ungeheuer (engl: The Monster) deals with relationships and how much we really know about the people we love and live with. It soon becomes clear that Flora was suffering from a deep depression. Her husband - especially with all his travelling - didn't really seem to notice this. He realized that there was something wrong with her but he never went to the roots of it. In fact, he is surprised when reading the diary that he is hardly mentioned. Most of it is about Flora, what happened to her before Darius and then about her depression.

As I said, the book is not always easy to read and so I wouldn't recommend it to everyone. There are also certain scenes (e.g. one on a cemetary in Budapest) that are very repellent. But if you are interested in a different version of the "wife dies - loses job - cracks up"-story that goes a lot deeper than the average version, this will be just the thing for you.