The Ditch by Herman Koch
Kindle Edition, 304 pages
Published June 11th 2019 by Hogarth and Crown Publishing
About the Book:
When Robert Walter, popular mayor of Amsterdam, sees his wife toss her head back with laughter while chatting to one of his aldermen at a New Year's reception, he immediately suspects the worst. Despite their long and happy marriage, Robert is convinced that Sylvia is cheating on him--with the respectable alderman who is dedicated to the environment, no less. The man who wants to spoil the capital's skyline with wind turbines. The New Year's reception marks the end of the "happy family" era that the mayor has enjoyed for so long. His wife and their daughter, Diana, however, are not aware of his suspicions and carry on as usual. Robert starts spending a lot of time and energy "behaving normally." Naturally, his normal behavior is far more suspicious. Normally Robert's not really present when he's at home--he's preoccupied with his phone, the newspapers, and his own thoughts. But now Robert is so sure he'll miss the clues if he doesn't pay attention that he starts to be almost alarmingly attentive and interested--ultimately losing himself in increasingly panicked and paranoid trains of thought.
This book was my introduction to Herman Koch and started out OK for me but as it went along I started to get bored of the same thing over and over again. The only thing that changed was the protagonist's paranoia regarding his wife's so called "affair". I also didn't understand why the narrator changed the names of the characters and sometimes the country they were from. That was just plain weird.
Some of the book was quite funny though, and that surprised me considering the subject matter. I really wanted to like this book and I found the idea of the story itself an ingenious one, but the execution failed to pull me in. I don't know if it was in the translation or the writing itself but I don't think I will choose a book written by this author again.
Thank you NetGalley, Herman Koch, Hogarth and Crown Publishing for the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an impartial review; all opinions are my own.
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