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Herman Koch

Dear Mr M.

A sardonic cocktail of literary satire and whodunit served by the international bestselling author of The Dinner

Following his ruthless dissections of the hypocrisy of the moneyed classes and corruption in the medical profession, Herman Koch turns his dystopian gaze on the literary world. In his new novel, Dear Mr M. he tells the tale of a fading writer held grimly to account by a neighbour with a score to settle. Did Reckoning, the novel that cemented Mr M’s literary success all those years ago, culpably distort the facts of a mysterious missing persons case?

‘Actual reality is not concerned with compactness. When faced with reality, a writer has no choice but to stick the knife in.’ These words are spoken by Mr M. in a tête-ê-tête with his tormentor Herman, a man he all but accused of murder forty years ago, the same man who has now come to exact retribution. True, Herman was one of the last people to see history teacher Mr Landzaat alive. And yes, as the new flame of a girl who was being stalked by Landzaat, Herman did have a bone to pick with him. But does that mean a writer can suggest with impunity that Herman was involved in Landzaat’s disappearance, even though the suggestion was made in a work of fiction?

An author’s freedom to tailor a story to suit his own ends is one of many literary issues explored in *Dear Mr M. *The novel deals with the crumbling of a writer’s fame, his inability to regain the heights of his literary peak, and the toll exacted by a writerly career, with its readings in rural libraries, interviews with inane journalists and social obligations at gentlemen’s clubs and literary galas. Setting part of the story among school kids in the 1960s also gives Koch the opportunity to lay bare the seedier elements of secondary education, complete with horny teachers, obnoxious teenagers and doomed romances.

But above all, Dear Mr M. is a stylish literary thriller, cunningly constructed – the narrative is presented from five different perspectives – and culminating in an unexpected denouement. Fans of The Dinner and Summer House with Swimming Pool will not only recognise Koch’s twisted cast of characters – from the passive-­aggressive downstairs neighbour to the supposedly civilised man of culture – but will also revel in the irony, black humour and comic take on the nastier side of life that have become the trademark of the Netherlands’ best-selling author.

Koch is in fine satirical form, but even more important is the literary self-examination that he appears to be conducting.

NRC Handelsblad

Dear Mr M. is not only gripping but also makes you laugh out loud on a regular basis.

Het Parool

Translations

Herman Koch

Herman Koch (b. 1953) is a widely acclaimed bestselling author. His international break through novel The Dinner (2009) has been published in 55 countries, which is unprecedented for any Dutch novel. It has also been adapted into several international stage plays and no less than three movies. The…

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Details

Geachte heer M. (2014). Fiction, 430 pages.
Words: 120,211
Copies sold: 150,000

Publisher

Ambo Anthos

Weesperstraat 105A
NL - 1018 VN Amsterdam
The Netherlands
Tel: +31 20 524 54 11
Fax: +31 20 420 04 22

E-mail:
christel@sharedstories.nl
Website:
http://www.amboanthos.nl

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