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by Elfriede Jelinek, Martin Chalmers (Translator)

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The 2004 controversial Nobel Prize-winning author explores power plays between the sexes with stunning originality.


The 2004 controversial Nobel Prize-winning author explores power plays between the sexes with stunning originality.

Editorial Reviews

Kirkus Reviews
The male drive for property acquisition and sexual conquest is the theme of this murky postmodernist novel from the Austrian writer, winner of the 2004 Nobel Prize in Literature. Though narrative and character are secondary here, it does have a storyline of sorts, plus a protagonist: Kurt Janisch, a rogue cop in the Alpine foothills of southern Austria. The ladies swoon over Kurt, a youthful-looking grandfather. He has a wife, a son who's a telephone repairman, a devoutly religious daughter-in-law and a grandson. The opening suggests we will get to know this family, but they soon disappear from view, along with the anti-clerical gibes. We're left with Kurt and his customary targets: single women or widows who own houses. "Property is the only thing that counts . . . a house keeps its value. A body decays." Yet ironically, Kurt is up to his ears in debt, unable to get the houses he craves. Perhaps he is stymied by his "persistent angry darkness." Not surprisingly, he likes rough sex, which leads him to strangle Gabi, who's not quite 16, and dump her body in the lake. The storyline, which comes and goes, shows the discovery of the body and the subsequent fruitless investigation (20 detectives, 2,000 people questioned, bureaucracy at work); there will be no resolution, no denouement, just a suicide by another of Kurt's targets. Nor will Kurt's darkness be examined; he is little more than an erect penis seeking a true climax. (Like Jelinek's 1989 novel Lust, this associates sexual hunger with capitalistic greed.) What's left is an authorial voice that manages to be both whimsical and labored; this weakens the satirical barbs against societal forces that have made nature itself suspect,whether the man-made lake or the mountain hollowed out by a mine. Much less accessible than Jelinek's best-known work, The Piano Teacher (1983), this is an unrewarding trek across a depressing landscape.

Product Details

Seven Stories Press
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Product dimensions:
5.90(w) x 7.90(h) x 1.00(d)

Meet the Author

The leading Austrian writer of her generation, ELFRIEDE JELINEK received the Heinrich Böll Prize for her contribution to German literature in 1986. The film by Michael Haneke of The Piano Teacher won the three main prizes at Cannes in 2001. In 2004, she was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature. She lives in Vienna. In awarding Jelinek the Nobel Prize, the Swedish Academy wrote that the "extraordinary linguistic zeal" of her writing reveals "the absurdity of society’s clichés and their subjugating power."

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Greed 1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Expecting a triller and well written novel by a Nobel prize winner, I labored getting through this book. It was boring, depressing, sometimes plain crude.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Arsenyc More than 1 year ago
I read this book for my book club and boy was I disappointed. I don't know if it was the translation, or just the author, but this book is the worse book I've ever read. There is no character development or dialog. The sentences go on for miles without any complete thought. And just when you finish a chapter and you think you finally might understand what the heck is going on, the next chapter is about something completely different, like from an entirely different book. I would classify this style of writing as being in the mind of someone attention deficit meets narcotic addiction with a splash of Turrets. In other words, read this book if you really feel like bashing it, because that's all we did in our book club meeting :-\