Review: Look Whose Back, by Timur Vermes

9780857052926 (1)Synopsis: Berlin, Summer 2011. Adolf Hitler wakes up on a patch of open ground, alive and well. Things have changed – no Eva Braun, no Nazi party, no war. Hitler barely recognises his beloved Fatherland, filled with immigrants and run by a woman.

People certainly recognise him, albeit as a flawless impersonator who refuses to break character. The unthinkable, the inevitable happens, and the ranting Hitler goes viral, becomes a YouTube star, gets his own T.V. show, and people begin to listen. But the Führer has another programme with even greater ambition – to set the country he finds a shambles back to rights.

Title: Look Whose Back
Author: Timur Vermes
Publisher: MacLehose Press
Pub Date: 3rd April 2014
Pages: 352
ISBN: 9780857052933

Rating: 1stars

I don’t often leave books unfinished. I equally don’t often bother with bad reviews. This blog is meant to be about the books I love, not hate. But I had to discuss this book with you all. I just don’t know what to make of it.

I was recommended Look Whose Back by a work friend; she saw numerous people read it on the train and laugh out loud, like really loud, in public. The concept seemed interesting and I figured it was worth a try.

I started reading it in April and now, in June, I’m still only 80% through – I just can’t bring myself to finish. Maybe I don’t understand German humour very well. Maybe I need to know more about the German side of the World War to ‘get it’.

In my opinion, Look Whose Back was really quite dull. Some social and political observations were slightly amusing, but for the most part, very little actually happens. The first half consists of endless conversations about how ‘realistic’ Hitler seems; his ability to ‘stay in character’; whilst Hitler remains as he is – an arrogant, racist so and so.

It is also quite unclear who the novel is actually ridiculing – Hitler, his reaction to us, our reaction to Hitler, or our reaction to today’s media. Vermes satire is also insipid and obvious in its targets – politicians are opportunistic, media people are obsessed with ratings etc.

Despite this, I did try to finish the book several times this weekend. I hoped something hilarious will happen in the last 20%, but every time I picked it up, I just couldn’t bring myself to read more. There are simply too many books in the world and too little time to waste on ones I don’t enjoy.

This will be the second book I’ve stopped reading… ever!

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One thought on “Review: Look Whose Back, by Timur Vermes

  1. This book has been on my radar for a while now, but I haven’t seen that many reviews. Translating humour can be hard, because so many of the things that we laugh at are culture-bound. I guess the fact that Germans are generally very touchy about the topic of World War II might be one of the reasons why this book has been getting a lot of attention, but it’s also good to hear people’s honest opinions on the book. Sometimes I too get excited by the premise of the book, but then find the execution lacking. In those cases writing a review of a book you feel conflicted about helps you reorganize your thoughts.

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