[Epub] ➞ Undtagelsen Author Christian Jungersen – Wildlives.co
Being as it s very educational for a novel, this book depressed the fuck out of me, and my view of humanity still has not fully recovered from reading it The best parts were the sections on actual genocide, and the actual story and characters took awhile to engage me, but they eventually did It s interesting to learn about the calm, stoic Danish people and their way of life, which evidently involves Scandinavian furniture, a terrible job market, being stalked by Serbian war criminals, and quietly torturing their havarti munching coworkers. Note to author Most women do not act like those really awful 13 year olds you encountered in middle school Get over it I was assigned this book by my adviser for an independent study All I had to do was read it not write anything, and I was happy about that However, now that I m not required to do any academic writing, and no one is really listening, I feel compelled to put in my two cents I know ironic.In short, I am NOT a fan of this book The basic premise is interesting looking at how the small, daily acts of evil people commit against each other relate to the huge atrocities of genocide If the author had focused on that idea directly, it might have been a fairly good book Instead, he created four female characters who had nothing better to do than act extremely paranoid, catty, self righteous, and or victimized in order to illustrate his point Based on his characterization, I have to assume he has some fairly misogynistic attitudes Sure, he gives each woman reasons for doing what she s doing to the others, but that doesn t make any of them good people The only significant but still peripheral male characters are fairly reasonable people, who do nothing other than stand in contrast to these four awful women Well, there is one evil guy, but he s the Bad Guy, so what do you expect All in all, not a good jumping off point for me I think, somewhat like in The Crying of Lot 49, the author is trying to use the plot to provide the emotional experience of an intellectual argument This argument is that quotidian evil acts sometimes incidentally converge to create the horrors of genocide In parallel, the plot is the result of a few bad choices fitting together in just the wrong way, causing all hell to break loose I get the argument about genocide, but it made the plot completely unlikely.I guess, all told, it s an interesting intellectual exercise, but it all comes down to a fundamental difference in perspective between my adviser and me He is interested in what motivates people to be evil, so as to prevent it I am interested in what motivates people to be good, so as to promote it Figure out what camp you re in, then take my review with a grain of salt. A Bestseller Throughout Europe, THE EXCEPTION Is A Gripping Dissection Of The Nature Of Evil And Of The Paranoia And Obsessions That Drive Ordinary People To Commit Unthinkable Acts Four Women Work Together For A Small Nonprofit In Copenhagen That Disseminates Information On Genocide When Two Of Them Receive Death Threats, They Immediately Believe That They Are Being Stalked By Mirko Zigic, A Serbian Torturer And War Criminal, Whom They Have Recently Profiled In Their Articles As The Tensions Mount Among The Women, Their Suspicions Turn Away From Zigic And Toward Each Other The Threats Increase And Soon The Office Becomes A Battlefield In Which Each Of The Women S Move Is Suspect Their Obsession Turns Into A Witch Hunt As They Resort To Bullying And Victimization Yet These Are People Who Daily Analyze Cases Of Appalling Cruelty On A Worldwide Scale, And Who Are Intimate With The Psychology Of Evil The Cruelty Which The Women Have Described From A Safe Distance Is Now Revealed In Their Own World They Discover That None Of Them Is Exactly The Person She Seems To Be And Then They Learn That Interpol Has Traced Mirko Zigic To DenmarkE EXCEPTION Is A Unique And Intelligent Thriller, Heralding Christian Jungersen As A Gifted Storyteller And Keen Observer Of The Human Psyche Normally, if a book hasn t engaged me in the first 50 pages, I ll set it aside Life s too short for bad books I don t know why, exactly, I made an exception for The Exception. The first 400 of its 500 pages embeds you in the inner life of four pathetic, slightly deranged women who all work in the same office all of whom are obsessed with the tedious minutiae of their work life Toward the end the story shifts into an awful parody of a late night TV police serial, complete with hideous cartoon villains and improbable escapes.The only thing I can say in its favor is its absurdly bleak set up The women work in a center dedicated to research on genocide One even edits a journal called Genocide News no kidding and we re treated to pages of ponderous extracts It s only fitting that after torturing the reader with their empty lives for 500 pages, none of them ends up with much of a life at all I can only guess that the author has a very droll sense of humor indeed.Recommended only if you have lots of aquavit on hand. Sometimes, characters in fully formed television worlds watch their own television, which is a device to comment on the events in the television show, and on the television show itself you know, meta TV This book uses articles about genocide as the TV show inside the TV show, to comment on and help explain the actions in the novel, which is set in the fictional Danish Center for Information on Genocide.The narrative is almost exclusively third person limited, but it alternates between the employees of the DCIG, so you never feel like you have all the facts, and the way Jungersen drops the reader in media res, you never feel like you know enough about what happened before As though there are facts, it s ridiculous It laughs at the idea of fact Reading just the story as closely and analytically as you can, drawing sure conclusions is impossible When you read one woman s section, her experiences make sense, even while you remember what the other women were thinking and feeling about the same events, and you don t know who is in the right.Because I feel like The Exception wants you to choose The genocide articles are worked smoothly into the narrative, and of course they re shocking and horrifying, but they also force you to consider the narrative in light of their various theses What did this genocide demonstrate about human behavior And then back you go into the story, and everyone is either acting weirder or perceiving everyone else as acting weirder this concept could have been really instructive and precious, but it s quite sophisticated and intelligently done, I think.I can t say much without mentioning any plot points, and that d be a terrible shame, not to get to read this cold It s just so good, so strange and creepy, unlike anything I ve read in a while I can t recommend it highly enough I want to wait a few months and read it again. This is a top notch, meaty psychological thriller that takes you inside a small office dedicated to research into genocide There, the five office workers simultaneously dig into the very nature of evil as they study the most inhumane acts ever perpetrated, while they quietly destroy each other s lives with office politics and interpersonal bullying Buried not so deep beneath the surface of even the seemingly closest friendships and politest collegiality apparently lurks seething resentments that rival those of genocidal maniacs.At the Copenhagen office of the genocide research center, Iben and Malene, best friends, each receives an anonymous email death threat that they initially assume was sent by a Serbian war criminal they have published about When the director s secretary also gets one, but not the much despised secretary, Anne Lise, Iben and Malene begin to suspect that Anne Lise is out to seek revenge for their teasing and ostracism Told alternately from the perspectives of the four women in the office, the story is both weighty and taut, with the reader becoming drawn into the increasingly paranoid and claustrophobic intimacy among them Anyone who has ever worked in an office will recognize the way tiny gestures take on intense meaning in those confines Even at the story s climax, when things become a little standard thriller, the truth can still go in a number of directions. I really struggled through this book I wanted to like it, to get into the subject matter and what the author was trying to say.but there were a lot of problems with it First, it was translated from Danish and that just didn t work It was very choppy, without flow I hope it was better in its original language Second, there was a lot of repetition A lot Really Third, and probably the worst defect is that the characters were, well, hideous Women who are competent professionals, with incredibly responsible jobs, in a serious non profit center focused on genocide research who act like seventh graders to each other and in their personal life Written by a male, it really smacked of sexism in the way the characters were drawn Fourth, there was a lot in the book that just didn t need to be there And, finally, fifth the plot just didn t come together for me and didn t make up for the other flaws I give myself a A for perseverance for finishing it a D for my time management skills while reading it. Mixing fiction and nonfictionThis is an interesting, memorable book It s about women who work in a genocide research center They write reports on evil, genocide, and other subjects, and then we read what they ve written, embedded in the novel What matters in this book is the extremely unusual mixture of fiction and nonfiction The facts in those reports are all real I learned, for example, about theories of evil in the Third Reich beginning with Arendt and continuing to the present.But then between the reports, the fictional researchers continue to do evil to one another It s a very effective device.I met Jungersen in Copenhagen he said he wrote intuitively, and he had little to add I don t believe artists who claim they are intuitive it s an easy out when it comes to public relations I hope he changes his attitude to his own work The book ends weakly, with a chapter ripped from or written for a Hollywood screenplay. The much longer full review can be found at the Chicago Center for Literature and Photography cclapcenter.com Ignoring the small flash of doubt in yourself that is what evil is Nobody thinks of himself as evil, but that deception is part of evil s nature And you can t lie to yourself all the time Once in awhile, there s that moment when you question if you are doing the right thing And that s your only chance to choose what is good, to do the right thing And the moment lasts maybe fifteen minutes every other month, maybe less The little lesson about life quoted above is something a lot of us especially Americans are starting to realize and that the root of what we traditionally call evil lies not in the cartoonish villainy we ve assigned over the decades to such groups as the Nazis and the Klan, but rather in the small everyday lapses in ethics all of us commit regularly, which when multiplied by millions is what leads to things like Hitler, Franco, Stalin, Bush, etc Evil is when we see something happening that we know is ethically wrong, but turn a blind eye towards because it s easier to do so evil is when we overreact, when we rush to judgment, when we affect a self righteous tone, when we abuse whatever tiny little amount of power any of us might have in our particular lives It is something we re all guilty of, that none of us ever think we re guilty of ourselves, but when multiplied by an entire society is what leads us into the grand messes of both the world and of history.And perhaps the guiltiest parties of all, or so argues Danish novelist Christian Jungersen in his brilliant new book The Exception, are those who believe they could never be guilty in the first place radical liberals, for example, humanitarians, those from pacifist countries because it is these people precisely who are blundering through such small evil acts without ever acknowledging them, without recognizing them for what they are it s a fascinating and controversial thing for someone in Jungersen s position to posit, which is what has made Jungersen a fascinating and controversial author in his native Denmark for Denmark, you see, has a long and proud tradition of pacifism and humanitarianism, including being one of the only countries on the planet during the Nazi era to officially and publicly harbor Jews As a result, or at least according to Jungersen, there is now a certain amount of liberal haughtiness inherent in the Danish national character What a book The sort of book you walk away from disoriented It isn t just physically heavy at 512 pages though weightless on Kindle , it s also heavy in every other sense of the word Such a deceptively simple story about inner strife of a small office spun into such a powerhouse of psychological suspense Four women working in a center for information on genocide turn their lives into a Sartre style nightmare, subtly, slowly turning their office and personal lives into a psychological battlefield spiraling toward an inevitable tragedy That s a basic summary and it oversimplifies the plot The real genius of this book is in the juxtaposition of the evil on grand scale and one of a small contained environment The macro and micro of evil in principle Can a person overcome their pathologies as presupposed predetermined by various psychological standards and become an exception to the rules Is evil born or created and how close is an average person to crossing that line under the right circumstances Subject that has long fascinated me, one I studied, social psychology and all its implications, whether explaining something genuinely horrifying like genocide or a much smaller event such as interpersonal relationships Jungersen took all the concepts, terms and research of social psychology and applied them so astutely, so cleverly to the book s protagonists and their actionsit s practically a textbook on the topic, although one with a suspense thriller motive thrown in The book is told from four different perspectives of its heroines and at no point are you exactly sure of what s going on, because, of course, we can only know so much of another person and as the truth is slowly revealed, it stands a good chance of blowing your mind This is why we read, isn t it To be engaged, moved, surprised, entertained, educated, stunned even, to try to understand others Well, this books offers all of it, although it isn t easy to get through, isn t always fun, far from light and might cause severe distrust of others or at least reconfigure your estimation of humankind Fascinating book, a bestseller in Europe, well deserved of any praise Absolutely worth the time and effort Highly recommended.