Week 44, 2016
Author: Robert Harris
Theme: historical fiction
Thesis: To solve a crime in “modern” Germany, the country that won the WWII.
Read on: 15-16.11.2016
It is the first time I read a historical fiction book. This novel is built upon an historical era that interests me and I study informally: the WWII. I was hesitant and at the same time curious about Fatherland. I am glad I read this novel, because Fatherland captivated me and from the second half of the book until its end, I could not put the volume down.
The narrative evolves in Berlin, Germany, in 1964. It is assumed Germany won the WWII 20 years ago, and the book starts with the preparations to celebrate Hitler’s 75th birthday. Germany at this moment of the novel, is a totalitarian state. The main character is Xavier March, a police criminal investigator of the SS. On week before the celebration of the Führer, March starts an investigation of the corpse floating in a lake outside Berlin, which turns to be the body of a high rank Nazi.
March is driven by his internal desire to know things, be an observer and critical person with all the information he is constantly receiving by observing and hearing. After a series of events, he is able to unveil a dark side of the war putting numbers and names to the unknown destiny of millions of Judes.
The fictional characters with the real ones are very well knitted. This connection allows the reader to get more immerse in Fatherland’s world. The author mentions, at the end of the novel, that the biographical aspects of the known characters are correct until 1942, and afterwards all is his imagination.
All the facts are in harmony with the fiction. Additionally the book has a good rhythm. I did not feel idle moments. The descriptions were detailed when they needed to be, but the plot allows to immerse with the present of March, who only has few days (I think 4 days) to safe his life. During these days, diverse set of emotions are trigger through the narrative (e.g. hope, attraction, betray, sadness) in addition to stimulate one’s intelligence challenging assumptions. Within the plot, the reader is also reminded that fantasy and reality are knitted.
After finalize the novel, one knows that read a fiction book. Simultaneously one has discovered facts of the historical aspects of the book (before upto 1942) which are shocking, in that time and up to our era. All these leaves an intense experience on the reader. As another reviewer wrote it:
In producing “Fatherland”, Harris has fathered a novel with a concept so brilliant, that the chilling non-fiction aspects of its story become all the more shocking. And that’s why this is a novel not worth missing. Source: http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/56842.Fatherland