It’s safe to say without spoiling the plot that Tommy Wieringa’s very short novel The Death of Murat Idrissi, translated from the Dutch by Sam Garrett, is built around a striking image of a dead boy. It’s one that I will probably remember for some time. Besides that and the fine prologue, however, I found this a rather insubstantial novel/la that in my humble opinion has similar problems as Hubert Mingarelli’s Four Soldiers, which I briefly reviewed recently: somewhat two-dimensional characters and an underdeveloped plot (and I’m a fan of short novels). Wieringa also tends toward using a lot of em dashes and semicolons, which to me felt a little too forced.
Perhaps my negative feelings stem from the fact that Mathias Énard’s Street of Thieves, my favorite novel of his, offers a fascinating portrait of the relations between Morocco and Europe. The underworld, the sexual frustration of men, Islam, and the astounding ending of that novel… Whereas here I feel there’s not much to take away with me after finishing.
I might come across as quite pessimistic in terms of this year’s MBI longlist, but I’ve read several from the list (which I haven’t reviewed or even marked yet on Goodreads), and fortunately know that there are books like Can Xue’s Love in the New Millennium, which I have recently finished in awe!
These brief thoughts on the book, along with other Man Booker International 2019 related posts, originally appeared on Goodreads.