HHhH - Laurent Binet
Author: Laurent Binet, Sam Taylor (translator)
Published: 2012 (first published 2009)
Challenges: I Love Libraries, Eclectic Reading, Historical Fiction
Genre: Historical Fiction, War Fiction, Translation, Literary Fiction
Description: HHhH: “Himmlers Hirn heisst Heydrich”, or “Himmler’s brain is called Heydrich”. The most dangerous man in Hitler’s cabinet, Reinhard Heydrich was known as the “Butcher of Prague.” He was feared by all and loathed by most. With his cold Aryan features and implacable cruelty, Heydrich seemed indestructible—until two men, a Slovak and a Czech recruited by the British secret service, killed him in broad daylight on a bustling street in Prague, and thus changed the course of History.
Who were these men, arguably two of the most discreet heroes of the twentieth century? In Laurent Binet’s captivating debut novel, we follow Jozef Gabćik and Jan Kubiš from their dramatic escape of Nazi-occupied Czechoslovakia to England; from their recruitment to their harrowing parachute drop into a war zone, from their stealth attack on Heydrich’s car to their own brutal death in the basement of a Prague church.
A seemingly effortlessly blend of historical truth, personal memory, and Laurent Binet’s remarkable imagination, HHhH—an international bestseller and winner of the prestigious Prix Goncourt du Premier Roman—is a work at once thrilling and intellectually engrossing, a fast-paced novel of the Second World War that is also a profound meditation on the nature of writing and the debt we owe to history. (via Goodreads)
Thoughts: I first heard about this novel through Hear...Read This! as one of their first selections and because the book sounded interesting. I had never heard about Reinhard Heydrich (may have heard his name his name in course of my history courses in university, but it never probably clicked in my head) and once I had received the book, I did some research on him and trust me he was not one you wanted to cross, both in life and in death.
What I liked about the most about the book is that the chapters were very short, mostly about a third to a half page and that you could see the author's thought process, at least I think it was, interjected with a bit of history of the Czech resistance movement. It was interesting to read a book that took from the Axis side that didn't involved the civilian population.
If there was something that bothered me was that when the author would spend a lot of time in the present and not return to the historical aspect of the book as quickly as I would have liked the author to.
Bottom line: If you are a fan of war fiction, I would highly recommend the book. Even if you like reading historical fiction that presents something that isn't your typical historical fiction and something more with a literary bent. Recommended.
Pages for 2014: 7073