Monday, 24 November 2008

Review – Greed by Elfriede Jelinek

Elfriede Jelinek won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2004, but I had never read her work before. One of her previous novels, The Piano Teacher, was apparently made into a film that won several prizes in Cannes in 2001, but I have never seen it. So I had little to prepare me for Greed, her latest work to be translated into English.

Greed is a kind of modernist crime novel. It is often quite difficult to understand exactly what is going on, but the gist of it is that the country policeman uses his position of male authority to satisfy his greed. This really is a novel about the difference between men and women, in which men are painted as beasts ruled by their penises who are ruining the planet, and women are portrayed as pretty damned stupid for allowing it all to happen. Jelinek (or at least, her narrator) has a low opinion of humankind. It was for this reason, I suspect, that whenever I put the book down I often found it hard to pick up again. There is a story buried away in there somewhere, in the same way as the murder victims are hidden in the woods around the country policeman’s village. There is also a surprising amount of humour in this novel, too. When I did bring myself to return to the book after frequent much-needed break, I usually enjoyed reading it. But only for so long at a time.

You can read my full review of Greed on the Bookbag website.

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