The pigeon by Patrick Suskind

The pigeon by Patrick Suskind

German fiction

translator – John E. Wood


Suskind is best known for his book Perfume and also the fact he doesn’t give any interview so very little is known about his life .This book is a very short fable like story of a man driven to the edge by a pigeon .er that sounds familiar a bit like the raven by Edgar Allen Poe yes this is sort of homage to that .

So we meet Jonathan Noel a french security guard this man likes order in his life in fact you could say he is a little to order and has borderline OCD .hiding himself from the world since his wife left him .So when one day a Pigeon decides to make his home in his apartment.

Now he saw the pigeon .It was sitting to his right a distance of about five feet ,at the very end of the hall crouched in one corner ,So light fell on the spot and Jonathan cast such a brief glance in that direction ,that he could not discern whether it was asleep or awake ,whether its eyes was open or closed .

Jonathan weighing up the pigeon .

I could imagine Jonathan being a reality tv star ,the man who hide for 30 years with a job that has minimal contact with people as that is what Jonathan thinks he wants little human contact  and a small apartment in a large building where he can hide as he dash trying to be unseen for the communal bathroom .You feel  Suskind is maybe using this as wider vision of modern man don’t we all live somewhat in bubbles these days ?This story has that strong German tradition of fables like Grimm the story can be read in many ways and although very short 77 pages in this edition from penguin with a largish font  .is the pigeon a symbol of something Jonathan lost in his life and by trying to chase the pigeon he may find again ?The book owes much to the Poe poem for the inspiration of the bird to drive some one to the very edge and has what many would call a Kafkaesque edge to it in the fact that Jonathan is facing a unknown foe in the pigeon and also facing the world some what a new because of the pigeon .I liked perfume and was pleased this although different to perfume completely is still beautifully written tale .

Have you read this book ?

do you like fables ?


November 2011


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