Book

Arnon Grunberg

Silent Extras

Whereas Grunberg described the world of paid love and escort services in his first novel, Blauwe maandagen, here he describes the film world. The protagonist Ewald Stanislas Krieg and his two friends, the eccentric Broccoli and the inaccessible Elvira, have ‘heard the call of Hollywood’ and make futile efforts to become rich and famous. What follows is a hilarious but humiliating journey through casting agencies, alternative youth theatre and the odd supporting role: ‘In the script they called the part I had to play Pimply Kid.’

Seemingly doomed to eternally playing silent extras, the threesome steadfastly continue to pursue brilliant careers, because then they will ‘finally know where they belong’. With a sentence like this Grunberg exposes the true motives of his characters. Both Ewald and Broccoli are pursued by their families’ wartime experiences and remain forever passers-by. The only solution is to be independent of other people: by earning a lot of money, for example. Broccoli’s aged father is a sad case of the results of that solution, and his advice is: ‘If I were you, I wouldn’t worry about whether people like me or not.’ Ewald seems to have followed his example; years later we see him in New York as a real estate agent, a money-grubber, who is empty inside: ‘I don’t relax,’ says Ewald. ‘I’ll relax in my grave.’

Neither the main character’s indifference nor the irresistible wit can camouflage the book’s underlying tone, which is one of desperation. In Figuranten the tragedy emerges from the dry humour with which the world is viewed. With this masterly novel, Arnon Grunberg proves to be one of the most promising writers of his generation.

Figuranten is even better than his overwhelming debut.

Arjan Peters, de Volkskrant

Even though Grunberg‘s version of a generation conceals desperation and melancholy instead of fun and indulgence, the book is still unrelentingly funny.

Doeschka Meijsing, Elsevier

A compelling show of everyday madness. With all its absurdity, it seems very remote at first but winds up being all too familiar (…) A heartrending, very funny book.

Jaap Goedegebuure, HP/De Tijd

Translations

Arnon Grunberg

Arnon Grunberg (b. 1971) debuted at the age of 23 with the novel Blauwe maandagen (Blue Mondays, 1994), which describes the world of prostitution with wry humour and was an instant success. His next two novels, Figuranten (Silent Extras, 1997) and Fantoompijn (Phantom Pain, 2000), strengthened both…

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Details

Figuranten (1997). Fiction, 300 pages.
Copies sold: 70,000

Publisher

Nijgh & Van Ditmar

Spui 10
NL - 1012 WZ Amsterdam
The Netherlands
Tel: +31 20 760 72 10

E-mail:
j.spooren@singeluitgeverijen.…
Website:
http://www.uitgeverijnijghenv…

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Literary agent

Arnon Grunberg Agency




Tel: +31 6 22 44 43 10
E-mail:
emile@arnongrunbergagency.com
Website:
http://www.arnongrunbergagenc…

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