Look Who's Back by Timur Vermes

Summer 2011. Berlin. Adolf Hitler wakes up on a patch of ground, alive and well. Things have changed – no Eva Braun, no Nazi party, no war. Hitler barely recognises his beloved Fatherland, filled with immigrants and run by a woman. People certainly recognise him, though – as a brilliant, satirical impersonator who refuses to break character. The unthinkable, the inevitable, happens, and the ranting Hitler takes off, goes viral, becomes a YouTube star, gets his own TV show, becomes someone who people listen to. All while he’s still trying to convince people that yes, it really is him, and yes, he really means it.
Look Who’s Back is a black and brilliant satire of modern media-bloated society, seen through the eyes of the Führer himself. Adolf is by turns repellent, sympathetic and hilarious, but always fascinating. Look Who’s Back is outrageously clever, outrageously funny – and outrageously plausible.

I personally loved this book, but it's definitely not for everybody. I read it for a book group with two friends of mine from Library School and they were less impressed with it than me, one outright hating it.

To me it's the kind of book that makes you think - a lot - afterwards. Obviously Hitler was a mass-murdering dickhead, but as is pointed out in the book a lot of the things we want politically today he wanted back then.

You can't help but sort of like Hitler in this book, what he experiences in this modern confusing age and how he reacts to it all, and while obviously this has a lot to do with how Vermes portrays him, I think it's pretty brilliant. It's all written excellently and I can just hear him speak during his long ranting speeches. I often found myself laughing out loud and then stopping quite suddenly wondering if it's okay to laugh with Hitler.

It's also just so very easy to forget. And I think the portrait painted by Vermes here, makes it clear, just how clever and well spoken Hitler was, and how dreadfully easy it was for him to sway the masses.

My only real issue with the book was my own lack of knowledge concerning the current German government. People and political subjects and debates are heavily mentioned, referenced to or made fun of and when you  barely know anything about how Germany is run today other than it's led by Angela Merkel, I think a lot of stuff goes by unfruitful.

Like I said though, it's food for thought and if you can handle some very black humour and satire, you might just enjoy this.

Look Who's Back
by Timur Vermes
Original title: Er ist wieder da
ISBN13: 9788779735859369 pages / published in 2012

Review by Iben Jakobsen, BoB, 2014


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