Herman Koch

Thinking of Bruce Kennedy

A woman in the throes of a midlife crisis embarks on a chastening Spanish adventure

When it comes to protagonists, Herman Koch delights in dishing up men who have at least one screw loose. Thinking of Bruce Kennedy is different: the novel that directly preceded The Dinner centres on a female character who, in many respects, is perfectly normal.

Under the pretext of depression, Mirjam Wenger escapes from her husband and children and, in an attempt to find herself, winds up in a hotel on the south coast of Spain. But if anything, Mirjam’s life on the costa proves even more humdrum and predictable than her life in Amsterdam.

Until American movie star Bruce Kennedy strolls into her life, that is. Kennedy’s glamour may be a little worn at the edges but Koch’s desperate housewife nonetheless falls for his charms – if only because he fleetingly reminds her what it’s like to feel like a seductive woman. But exactly what game is the faded film star playing?

Koch proves that he doesn’t need ­convoluted plots or eccentric characters to tell an original story. His fifth novel is a psychological tragicomedy that has the power to move the reader while steering the plot expertly towards its surprise ending.

Koch has slotted all the elements cleverly into place. His humour is restrained, his style subdued. A powerful novel that eschews heavy artillery, yet still delivers a final blow that reverberates in your head.

Het Parool

Herman Koch

Herman Koch (b. 1953) is an internationally best-selling author. In 2009 he wrote The Dinner, which was translated into 42 languages and acquired world fame. In the years that followed, bestsellers such as Summer House with Swimming Pool (2011), Dear Mr M. (2014), The Ditch and Finnish Days (2020)…

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Denken aan Bruce Kennedy (2006). Fiction, 192 pages.
Words: 55,334


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