Look Who’s Back – Timur Vermes

Look who’s back by author Timur Vermes is an international bestseller; in its native Germany alone, Vermes debut novel has sold over 2 million copies. But is it worth the hype? If you are looking for a simple yes or no, you’ve definitely come to the right wrong place – where would the fun be in that?!

So without further ado, the premise: Adolf Hitler, the leader of the Third Reich, wakes up in Berlin, 2011 to a modern day Germany. Angela Merkel (a woman, heaven forbid) is Chancellor, TV (the great propaganda tool of the Nazis) is filled with inane cookery shows, and multi-culturism is alive and well. Immediately Hitler is mistaken as an impersonator, whose ability to remain in character 24/7 lands him a starring role on a televised comedy show. His passionate but scathing rants go viral, and he becomes a YouTube sensation overnight.

It is not your usual satire by any means, and so it is unsurprising then, given the sensitive subject matter of the novel, Vermes has courted both controversy and criticism. Much of this focused on the trivialisation of Hitler – he does after all create a fictional media sensation! That being said, I did enjoy the book for a number of reasons…

  1. It offers a very interesting look into the “celebrity cult” phenomenon of the past few years
  2. It also speaks to the rise of the Hitler in 1930s Germany – it made me think a lot about the so called “German question” and how Hitler wasn’t stopped long before WW2 (as Vermes himself said, “Books don’t have to educate or turn people into better human beings – they can also just ask questions. If mine makes some readers realise that dictators aren’t necessarily instantly recognisable as such, then I consider it a success.”)
  3. After all that, it still manages to be funny – particularly Hitler’s understanding of modern technology

That is not to say however that there weren’t things I was less keen about…namely the ending. Anti-climactic seems a little too harsh given that I didn’t expect Look who’s back to end with fireworks and a dance, but I did expect more. Also in this vain, given the ending required no dramatic build up whatsoever, the whole thing could have been a little more succinct, shorter even. Therein is the total of my criticism and so by this point you’ve probably realised that I lied when I said that this was the wrong place to find a simple yes/no answer as to whether this is a book worth reading, but hey you’re still here.

Final answer: it’s a well-rounded satire, go get a copy!

 

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