The Guard

The Guard

by Peter Terrin, David Colmer
     
 

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Winner of the European Union Literature Prize, Peter Terrin's The Guard is a haunting novel of perceived oppression by the an omnipresent, but unknown, authority.

In the near future, Harry and Michel live in the basement of a luxury apartment block, guarding the inhabitants. No one goes outside. The world might be at war, it might even have been plunged

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Overview

Winner of the European Union Literature Prize, Peter Terrin's The Guard is a haunting novel of perceived oppression by the an omnipresent, but unknown, authority.

In the near future, Harry and Michel live in the basement of a luxury apartment block, guarding the inhabitants. No one goes outside. The world might be at war, it might even have been plunged into nuclear winter. No one knows.

But one weekend, all of the residents leave the block, one by one. All but the man on floor 29. Harry and Michel stick to their posts. All they know, all they can hope for, is that if they are vigilant, the "Organization" will reward them with a promotion to an elite cadre of security officers. But what if there were no one left to guard?

Playing on our darkest fears, The Guard is a tautly observed novel by a writer of striking and stylish originality.

Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
10/15/2014
In a near future in which the extremely wealthy lock themselves away in impregnable high-rises, two guards stand watch in a basement garage. Their jobs are unending tedium, made bearable only by a rigid and unfailing belief that what they are doing is important. Never allowed to leave their posts, the guards long to be called up to the ranks of the Elite who get the plum security jobs. But boredom and a blind trust in the unseen organization that hired them lead our protagonists to paranoia and violence when they no longer have anyone to protect. VERDICT Shades of Samuel Beckett's Waiting for Godot are present, as the two guards are absurd in their devotion to the minutia of their job, but if there is comedy here it is of the darkest, bleakest sort. Flemish author Terrin won the European Union Literature Prize for this novel, his first to be translated into English. The sf aspects of the hinted at but unseen dystopian world outside the claustrophobic confines of the guards' universe shouldn't prevent this from reaching a wide audience.
Publishers Weekly
★ 09/08/2014
Guards Harry and Michel inhabit the basement garage of the luxury apartment building whose erstwhile residents they were hired to protect. Confined to the quarters supplied by their invisible employer, their work is their existence, even as they wonder why the tenants have fled. Terrin twists this absurdist nightmare with the arrival of a unnamed third guard, who is evasive about the outside and the reasons for his presence. As an increasingly unnerved Harry demands answers, Terrin uses a pesky fly, a faulty toilet, and mounting uncertainty about the nature of the guards’ employer to create a claustrophobic world that recalls the works of Pinter and Kafka. Harry and Michel’s ascent to the residential level to locate and protect the building’s possibly mythical last tenant grows increasingly hallucinogenic, and is related through Michel’s unreliable narration. Terrin unabashedly invokes existentialist philosophy, and his vivid portrayal of characters gripped by unresolved fears and faced with absurd situations makes his work nectar for reflective readers. (Jan.)
From the Publisher
"The Guard is a novel that leaves you astonished with its beauty and completeness."—NRC Handelsblad"

The Guard is a sublime book... a brilliantly told story."—Karin Overmars, Het Parool"

The Guard is so good, its world so minutely described and Michel so undeniably compelling that to suggest anything other than to pick this up and read it immediately would be to do it a disservice."—SciFi Now"

A mix of psychological thriller and SF fable, this strange, wonderfully claustrophobic novel."—John O'Connell, The Guardian"

A rich and gripping mix of all the ingredients that make for a truly haunting atmosphere."—Valeria Melchioretto, Writers' Hub

-There's a cold and beautiful precision to Peter Terrin's writing, and a remorselessness and finally terrifying accretion of detail that begins by seeming fussy and ends by being unsettling."—SFX"

Terrin tells a strongly allegorical story of 21st-century society, which holds the reader under its spell... The Guard is not only an enthralling psychological novel, it is also a love story, one which encompasses oppressiveness, emotion and explicit sensuality."—from the European Union Literature Prize citation"

Terrin wastes no time sucking the audience into the narrative... you simply won't want to put the book down until you find out exactly what's going on."—Joe Royce, Starburst Magazine"

Terrin's wonderfully sinister, darkly funny novel owes more to this genre than to simple SF. Guards Harry and narrator Michel keep watch in a tower block basement as the 'New War' empties the city. Many twists ensue. Finely translated (from Dutch) by David Colmer, the deadpan, exact, discomfiting prose keeps an icy grip."—Boyd Tonkin, The Independent"

This is a tremendous novel, often horrifically funny and always unsettling. Most emphatically, though, it is a European novel, articulating the cultural situation of a Flanders-born writer looking to Dutch literature while retaining a powerful awareness of Belgium's surrealist traditions."—Eileen Battersby, The Irish Times"

Webs of Pinteresque paranoia... Effectively horrid."—David Langford, The Sunday Telegraph"

Terrin has enriched Flemish literature with a clever novel about modern, yet simultaneously universal, paranoia that ends in a perfect psychological pas de deux."—De Morgen"

wryly funny"—Booklist"

Science fiction meets Samuel Beckett in this Godot-like tale . . . a disarming allegory for the conflict-ridden, anxiety-producing times we live in."

Kirkus Reviews"

Chillingly claustrophobic and ominous . . . what develops into the existential love story between Michel and Harry, the postmodern grandkids of Vladimir and Estragon (if not Stan and Ollie), gains a genuine poignancy."—Locus

EBOOK COMMENTARY
'webs of Pinteresque paranoia ... Effectively horrid' Sunday Telegraph.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781623652883
Publisher:
Quercus
Publication date:
01/06/2015
Sold by:
Hachette Digital, Inc.
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
256
File size:
631 KB

Related Subjects

Meet the Author

Peter Terrin represents a unique voice in contemporary literature, touching on universal and highly topical themes. He is considered by critics to be a literary maverick, a classic writer and a masterful stylist. He is also an avid collector of vintage typewriters.

David Colmer is the prizewinning translator of novels by Gerbrand Bakker, Arthur Japin and Dimitri Verhulst.


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