When Alex, a handsome Munich archi-tect, tries to tend his neglected vegetable patch, he finds it rotting. Attempts to remedy the situation are futile – the ground is frozen. This, it becomes clear, is a metaphor for Alex’s marriage to Sonia, a beautiful and successful fellow architect. The cause of the impenetrable frost in their marriage is Alex’s compulsion to sacrifice his life for snatched moments of almost sadistic satisfaction with a woman he finds plain and dull. In his forensically analytical new novel, Peter Stamm, a prize-winning Swiss writer, anatomises a marriage and the irrational urges that drive people to sabotage their lives.
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'Robert Silvers, editor of the New York Review of Books, once asked Isaiah Berlin who his ideal dinner guest would be. Without hesitation Berlin exclaimed, ‘William James!’'
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Hilary Mantel reviewing Margaret Atwood: a #BookerPrize double-header from the archive.
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