Book Review: The Kindly Ones by Jonathan Littell

There were times while I was reading this that I thought perhaps the vast amount of history could have been cut. A thousand-page novel…really? When is that actually necessary?
Well, it is for this book.
I had also thought at times that the dialog could have been trimmed up for pacing. But then I also considered that the author was handling the dialog that way for a purpose, and that eventually the purpose would be revealed. It was, in the last 100 pages when the protagonist retreats to his sister’s house and spends a bizarre few weeks there in isolation.
So, the two elements that I thought maybe could have been trimmed in the end revealed themselves as masterworks by the author. I don’t want to say much more because, despite this being 1,000 pages long, there’s actually not much I can detail without providing spoilers.
Know this one thing: The most important revelation comes literally with the last sentence. The entire work…how the history is handled, that dialog, the protagonist’s journey through the war as well as his personal events…all come together in that single masterful last sentence.
This is a brilliant novel. Well worth the dedication to read all 1,000 pages.
5 stars!
Another novel that works with historic evil is Message Stick, a contemporary novel that reveals how the Australian government tried to destroy Aboriginal culture in a near genocide.

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