Archive for the ‘About the book’ Category

Blographia Literaria

March 26, 2009

Andrew Seal at Blographia Literaria has two posts on The Kindly Ones. The first deals with his reactions to reviews of the book, the second his own review.

In his first essay, he points to how Littell’s experience working for an NGO in places such as  Bosnia and Herzegovina, Chechnya, the Congo, Sierra Leone, and Afghanistan is key to thinking about how genocide is portrayed in the book:

“I do not understand how one can simply neglect to talk about this aspect of Littell’s personal history—is it not the most basic background and most likely impulse for the writing of a novel about mass murder, a great deal of which was the result or the corollary of starvation? To ignore or pass over the novel’s overwhelming prevalence of malnutrition, hunger, and starvation in favor of some relatively isolated scenes of (nonetheless intense) violence is to miss an enormous part of the novel’s substance, meaning, intention, and effect.”

An Essay from the Translator

March 16, 2009

Charlotte Mandell, who had the arduous task of translating The Kindly Ones into English,  posted an essay about the book over at

“This is not the One Good Nazi of the sentimental (and to me disgusting) movies. This is the Evil Nazi, and we are in him for a thousand pages, and have to make our own way out. No consolations, no forgivenesses. I think about Paul Celan’s famous question, and realize we have to become the ones who witness the witness.”    More.

USA Today Article

March 12, 2009

Read about the polarizing debate about The Kindly Ones at USA

Overview at New York Magazine

March 11, 2009

For an amusing overview of reviews so far for Jonathan Littell’s The Kindly Ones, take a look at this article at New York Magazine.  Reviews are sorted into three categories: “Kindly,” “Mean,” and “Ambivalent.”

NPR Interview

March 10, 2009

In a piece about The Kindly Ones on Weekend Edition, Frank Browning gives us a rare interview with the author, Jonathan Littell. Listen to it here.

Win a signed copy of The Kindly Ones

March 6, 2009

Very Short List is giving away 30 signed copies of The Kindly Ones. Win a chance to read the book everyone is talking about!

Question for readers of The Kindly Ones

March 6, 2009

On each Friday for the next two months we will be posting a question for readers of The Kindly Ones. We welcome your responses to each question.

Today’s question:

Bernhard Schlink’s internationally bestselling novel, The Reader, spoke to the question of guilt among Germans—especially the second generation, the children of the war and the Holocaust. If you have read the book or seen the movie, what insights did it offer you about the ordinary Germans who perpetrated these crimes? How might that influence how you approach a book like The Kindly Ones?

More Reviews are in…

March 5, 2009

We will keep you up-to-date as more reviews come in. Look for our weekly reader’s guide question tomorrow and every Friday!

Reviews and discussion of The Kindly Ones by Jonathan Littell:

The Jewish Daily Forward.


Stephen Mitchelmore.

English novelist Carey Harrison at ReadySteadyBook.

NY Times article on The Kindly Ones

March 4, 2009

Today’s New York Times had an article about the publishing history of The Kindly Ones and more about the controversy surrounding the book.
You can find it here.

The Kindly Ones now in bookstores!

March 3, 2009

You’ve heard about the controversy, now check out the book yourself!

Here is what a few of your fellow readers are saying about it online:

A reaction to the NY Times review here.

In the context of the controversy over The Reader.

Follow the thread as bloggers react to the debate on the book.
At Normblog. Max Dunbar. Harmless Fraud.

On the Kakutani/Korda debate over at Omnivoracious.

For more about Jonathan Littell, check out this article at the Wall Street Journal written by Jeffrey Trachtenberg.