Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Review: "In Search of Klingsor" by Jorge Volpi

Keeping in the theme of reading and reviewing Spanish language novels, Jorge Volpi’s In Search of Klingsor turned out to be a pleasant surprise for me. I normally do not like to read novels about World War II era subjects. I think the genre has been done to death, it being an easy tool for the storyteller to manipulate the person’s feelings for a cheap emotional reaction. But sometimes, the book is quite good, in the case of this novel. It doesn’t quite reach the level of greatness Julie Orringer’s The Invisible Bridge does, but it holds its own over the course of 400 long pages. The story concern’s two very different people caught up in world of mystery right after the end of World War II. First, we meet Francis Bacon, whose problems extend beyond his unfortunate name. A gifted student of physics who has rubbed shoulders with the likes of Heisenberg and Einstein, he finds himself shipped off to Europe after an incident involving his fiancé and mistress in the middle of a lecture. Over there, he is tasked with finding out who the famed Klingsor is, the possible codename given to the person who helped Hitler personally build Germany’s failed attempt at an atomic bomb. He is partnered with Gustav Links, a mathematician who survived an imprisonment and death sentence when he was implicated in the plot to assassinate Hitler in 1944. Together, they interview countless physicist, most who have Nobel Prize’s to see if Klingsor was a real person or code name for many people or no one. The most interesting part of the book is the back-story of Links, who narrates. His story is a tragic one you find out in the end, and shows the true emotional loss people suffered during this harsh time. While by no means a masterpiece, this book is worth checking out.
Rating: 4/5

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