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 ?


18 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Matt Craig
    Nov 02, 2011 @ 10:02:36

    Thanks for the great review, Stu. I loved Perfume and had never heard of this until your post last month. Looks like I’ll be picking it up and giving it a try.

    All the best,



  2. Tony
    Nov 02, 2011 @ 10:31:34

    I’ve never read anything by Süskind, but this does sound intriguing. Have you read ‘Perfume’ too?


  3. Vishy
    Nov 02, 2011 @ 13:46:58

    I am planning to read this book in the next few days, Stu. And so I didn’t read your post. I will read the book and then come back and read your review. Glad to know that you enjoyed it. I read ‘Perfume’ last year and loved it. Süskind’s prose is really beautiful.


  4. Jackie (Farm Lane Books)
    Nov 02, 2011 @ 14:23:04

    I haven’t read this or The Raven and I can’t decide whether I’d love or hate a book about being driven mad by a pigeon (I can’t see a middle ground!) I guess there is only one way to find out….


  5. Rikki
    Nov 02, 2011 @ 17:29:15

    Never read The pigeon, but I loved, loved Perfume.


  6. Tom Cunliffe
    Nov 03, 2011 @ 09:10:02

    Wow, another book by Suskind! I thought Perfume was a fantastic read to this is definitely one to watch out for. Thanks for bringing it to your readers’ attention


  7. Kinna
    Nov 04, 2011 @ 09:41:04

    I like fables. I know of Suskind and Perfume but have not read it. This sounds very interesting. Sounds like Suskind put some of his own desires in the book. Thanks for the review.


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  10. tortoisebook
    Nov 08, 2011 @ 10:41:59

    Hi, I finished reading Perfume yesterday and really enjoyed it. There seems to be a common theme of hiding away in Suskind’s work with Grenouille, in Perfume, spending 7 years in a cave and utterly disinterested in, and disgusted by, other people. As you say, this may be Suskind’s own take on life if he keeps out of the spotlight himself despite his success.


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November 2011


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