A controversial novel first released in Europe has Adolf Hitler at its center. Now that book is coming to America.
As we previously reported, the book by Timur Vermes titled “Er Ist Wieder Da,” or “Look Who’s Back,” imagines Adolf Hitler living in the present day and reacting to such developments as e-mail and talk shows. The novel was first published in Germany and was released in English in the UK in 2014.
The book has of course already been met with mixed reactions in Europe. German newspaper Die Suddeutsche Zeitung wrote of it, “We laugh, but it’s a laugh that sticks in the throat.” Boyd Tonkin of the Independent said that the book “scoots blithely around a fathomless abyss of bad taste…. [It's a satire of] the blank ironies of amoral and fad-crazy multi-platform media. For parallels, think Sacha Baron Cohen and Chris Morris.” But Guardian writer Steven Poole noted that “in Britain we’ve been making fun of Hitler for decades…. he seems a cutely domesticated Adolf.”
Now “Look” is set to arrive in the US, with a publication date set for May 5. One review, that of Janet Maslin for the New York Times, has been released already.
“There’d be no need to discuss the acceptability of laughter if ‘Look Who’s Back’ weren’t desperately funny,” Maslin wrote. “But Mr. Vermes has created an ingenious comedy of errors in which the jokes are either on Hitler’s misapprehensions about the modern world or the modern world’s refusal to take him at face value…. This book isn’t sharp-fanged, but it’s able to remain both humorous and disturbing after the initial jokiness has passed…. Chalk up the great popularity of ‘Look Who’s Back’ to its author’s basic act of provocation and to the highly polished sitcom sensibility that works so well here.”
It remains to be seen how the rest of America will react.