Monday, April 13, 2009

Tom Rob Smith: Child 44

"Child 44" - i read the novel this weekend, and it went under my skin. it was on the short list for the Booker Price last year, now i saw it in the Wernau library. i thought, i just have a look, read the first pages. but then i was stunned by it. and kept reading. i read the book in 3 days. it's such an intense book, with so many aspects that it's difficult to sum it up.

..i just looked for a description. here is a short interivew with the author, up in amazon:
"What is Child 44 about?"
"Child 44 is a thriller set in the terror of 1950s Stalinist Russia, a brutal regime that executed anyone who disagreed with its dogma. It proclaimed to be a perfect society. So, when a series of brutal murders take place, no one is permitted to say that these are the work of a serial killer. In a perfect society there can be no crime.
One man, Leo Demidov, a State security agent, a man who has spent his entire career arresting innocent men and women, decides to redeem himself by catching this killer. To do so, he must buck the system, risking his life and the life of everyone he loves. "

the thing is, the description doesn't really catch the essence of the book - in the first half, the book is really about life in a totalitarian system, with Leo being a devoted agent, whose current case is catch a vet who is thought to maybe be a spy. and it's during this case that he starts to have the first doubts about the system he works in.

here's a key quote, it's from the second half of the book, Leo's father saying to him: "I wish you could have had a better government to serve."

and here, some interesting lines on the process: "Through the various drafts I had feedback from S.B., which was the perfect mix of critisicm and encouragement. .. Finally I'd like to thank James Gill at PFD for taking on the book once it was finished, only for him to tell me it wasn't finished at all, making me rewrite it again."

it made me think, that behind every book, there is a story of how it came together.

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