Dear Mr. M: Book summary and reviews of Dear Mr. M by Herman Koch

Dear Mr. M

by Herman Koch

Dear Mr. M by Herman Koch X
Dear Mr. M by Herman Koch
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  • Published in USA  Sep 2016
    416 pages
    Genre: Thrillers

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Book Summary

The tour-de-force, hair-raising new novel from Herman Koch, the New York Times bestselling author of The Dinner and Summer House with Swimming Pool.

Once a celebrated writer, M had his greatest success with a suspense novel based on a real-life disappearance. It told the story of a history teacher who went missing one winter after having a brief affair with a beautiful student of his. The teacher was never found. Upon publication, M's novel was a runaway bestseller, one that marked his international breakthrough.

That was years ago, and now M's career is fading. But not when it comes to his bizarre, seemingly timid neighbor who keeps a close eye on him and his wife. Why?

From alternating points of view, where no one is to be trusted, Herman Koch weaves together an intricate tale of a writer in decline, a teenage couple in love, a missing teacher, and a single book that entwines all of their fates. Thanks to M's novel, supposedly a work of fiction, everyone seems to be linked forever, until something unexpected spins the "story" off its rails.

With ever increasing tension, his signature sardonic wit and world-renowned sharp eye for human failings, Herman Koch once again spares nothing and no one in his gripping new novel, a barbed performance that suspends readers in the mysterious space between fact and fiction.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Koch cleverly lays out the pieces of his puzzle, letting first one pattern and then another emerge, and leaving the final piece in reserve until the last few pages. His sardonic sense of humor and dark perspective on human failings give the novel a greater, more satisfying depth than the usual thriller." - Publishers Weekly

"Koch is consistently attuned to our hidden foibles and fakery, which makes for deliberately discomfiting reading. Sleeker writing would enhance its impact." - Kirkus

"Koch's totally engrossing blend of thriller and literary fiction will take you into that Twilight Zone "middle ground between light and shadow" and hold you there for awhile afterward." - Booklist

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Reader Reviews

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Cloggie Downunder

A brilliant read!
“It’s not something that can simply be turned on and off, this constant observing of superabundant detail; he is a writer, he tells himself, but the vacuuming up of details is purely obsessive. Often, after a day in the city, or a meal in a crowded restaurant, he comes home exhausted by all those faces and their irregularities.”

Dear Mr M is the eighth novel by Dutch actor, television and radio producer, newspaper columnist and author, Herman Koch, and the third to be translated into English. “Dear Mr M” is the salutation that begins a long letter to the ageing and formerly best-selling author who has moved into a flat in Amsterdam, from the younger man who lives in the flat below. Mr M’s bestseller was a thriller about a high school history teacher who was murdered by two of his students after having an affair with one of them. It was based on actual events that occurred at Terhofstede in late December some forty years previous.

In real life, police never recovered the teacher’s body, the teenagers protested their innocence, and much of actually happened was unknown. M did what authors do best, and filled in the gaps with his imagination. But it seems the man writing to M knows the story much more intimately: wouldn’t M like to know what really happened?

The story is split between the present day and that eventful year forty years ago The first person narrative by Mr M’s downstairs neighbour is supplemented by third person narratives from the perspective of Mr M, his young wife, one of the students involved and the teacher. Koch’s characters are multi-faceted: few are quite what they first appear to be, none is entirely blameless and all possess some very human flaws.

Koch gives the reader highly original plot with plenty of twists, back-flips, red herrings and a conclusion that will leave the reader gasping; he manages to include a fist fight, book signings, a bit of stalking, and the making of home movies. There is quite a bit of satire, some irony and plenty of humour, some of which is rather black, some tongue-in-cheek, starting with the disclaimer: "Anyone who thinks he recognises himself or others in one or more characters in this book is probably right. Amsterdam is a real city in the Netherlands"

This novel is cleverly crafted to keep the reader constantly wondering about the truth; this keeps the pages turning as the facts about what happened at Terhofstede, and what led up to it, are gradually revealed. Koch’s commentary on authors, both best-selling and mediocre, on publishers, on librarians, on interviews and author events, is accorded authenticity from his obvious personal experience. Flawlessly translated from the original Dutch by Sam Garrett, this novel is Koch’s best yet. A brilliant read!

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Author Information

Herman Koch Author Biography

Photo © Mark Kohn, Hollandse Hoogte

Herman Koch (born 1953) is an internationally bestselling author. The translation rights of The Dinner (2009) have been sold to over 55 countries, which is unprecedented for a modern Dutch novel. The Dinner has been adapted into several international stage plays and into a Dutch and Italian movie. The US movie adaptation of The Dinner will be screened in 2017, starring Richard Gere and Laura Linney. Summer House with Swimming Pool (2011) and Dear Mr M. (2014) are international bestsellers as well.

Link to Herman Koch's Website

Name Pronunciation
Herman Koch: Coke

Other books by Herman Koch at BookBrowse
  • The Dinner jacket
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