HHhH by Laurent Binet, has represented for me one of the biggest literary surprises in the last years.
Target audience? Those in love with history, those who wish to hear the truth from a writer who really knows his pen, but also those who let themselves wooed by novels like The Book Thief and who need ASAP a cold shower. We are not allowed to forget reality. And, if for this, you need to get off your fluffy and pink clouds, then so be it.
Where and when? Prague, towards the end of the Second World War.
Strong points? The exceptional writing style, the author’s magnificent interventions in the story (you almost feel how he touches you when you forget about him), the incredible events in which the three brave heroes are involved, Binet slapping you at the end of the chapters and the way your heart and soul is soaring long time after that. Sometimes, a simple sentence can put you down mercilessly. The major impact on everything you thought you knew about Nazism, Heydrich, Hitler, Jews and the horrific events of those times.
Weak points? The slightly superior omniscience of the author which may bother the recalcitrant natures. I said “may”.
Favorite characters? The Author, Prague, and the extraordinary and unforgettable trio: Gabcik, Kubis and Valcik.
Convince-me! “When I look at the news, when I read the newspaper, when I meet people, when I see my friends or some acquaintances, I tell myself the world is ridiculous, thrilling and cruel. The same goes for this book: the story is cruel, the heroes, thrilling, while I am ridiculous. But I am in Prague.”
Bonus? The scene in the church where 7 people withstand 800 SS soldiers reaches such a perfection, that you wouldn’t believe this is a fragment from a debut novel.
Stars? 9 plus to 10.