Summerhouse with Swimming Pool
Doctors are unassailable. Their patients, with all their secrets, are delivered up to them body and soul. Marc Schlosser, the central character in Herman Koch’s Summerhouse with Swimming Pool, is a family doctor to the rich and famous, and behind his mask of solicitude a heartless cynic.
He despises his patients, whom he observes with detachment, feigning concern. He has not taken his profession seriously for many years, having accepted without protest that he is a cog in the bureaucracy of the healthcare system, where costs, profits and statistics are all that matter.
When he finds his honour as a husband and father in jeopardy, however, he realizes he has power over life and death. Who could do anything to him should one of his patients die? He has no respect for the Medical Disciplinary Board, which sure enough puts the case on the back burner. Like Koch’s previous much-praised bestseller The Dinner, Summerhouse with Swimming Pool is a contemporary novel of manners with the plot of a thriller, its glamorous setting depicted with biting humour. The ethical questions Koch raises stay with the reader for a long time.
Herman Koch has met with equal success as a writer and as an actor. Ever since his debut as a novelist in 1989 with Save Us, Maria Montanelli his books have been characterized by a cynical view of the snobbish middle classes. He has also worked as a scriptwriter and actor on absurdist television comedy programmes. His seventh novel, The Dinner (2009), brought him international fame and a place at number six on the list of bestselling European novels. Summerhouse with Swimming Pool (2011) has met with jubilant reviews, becoming a bestseller in Dutch.