The Death of Murat Idrissi by Tommy Wieringa

Scribe, January 2019, 102 pp

Scribe, January 2019, 102 pp

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.

Love in the New Millennium by Can Xue

Four Soldiers by Hubert Mingarelli