Koch’s novels just keep getting better, and this was one of my favorite books from 2016. I love his twisted mind, for the totally unpredictable, suspenseful plots and for the complex, you-hate-them-and-yet-you-love-them characters it produces, but mostly I love his sardonic, razor-sharp, sickly hilarious wit which spares no one (of a librarian, one character observes, “At which age did that face slam shut like a book no one felt like finishing?”). Mr. M is a writer (Koch doesn’t hesitate to skewer his own profession) of some renown whose most successful novel, based on the very real disappearance of a high school history teacher, was written years earlier. The suspense in this novel, written from alternating points of view from both the present and the past, involves exposing what happened to this teacher. The solution is jaw-droppingly brilliant and Koch’s skill for exposing human flaws is without equal.
— From Jeanne's Picks
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.