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Brodeck's Report [Paperback]

Philippe Claudel , John Cullen
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
RRP: £7.99
Price: £6.39 & FREE Delivery in the UK on orders over £10. Details
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Book Description

7 Jan 2010

From his village in post-war France, Brodeck makes his solitary journeys into the mountains to collect data on the natural environment. Day by day he also reconstructs his own life, all but lost in the years he spent in a camp during the war. No-one had expected to see him again. One day, a flamboyant stranger rides into the village, upsetting the fragile balance of everyday life. Soon he is named the Anderer, “the other”, and tensions rise until, one night, the newcomer is murdered. Brodeck is instructed to write an account of the events leading to his death, but his report delivers much more than the bare facts: it becomes the story of a community coming to terms with the legacy of enemy occupation.

In a powerful narrative of exceptional fascination, Brodeck's Report explores the very limits of humanity.


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Product details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Quercus (7 Jan 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1906694680
  • ISBN-13: 978-1906694685
  • Product Dimensions: 13.2 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 90,590 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

'This extraordinary novel … deeply wise and classically beautiful … is a modern masterpiece' Helen Brown, Daily Telegraph.

'The novel transforms modern history into a fable that merges Kafka and the Grimms' Boyd Tonkin, Independent.

'This triumph of a book serves as an unsettling reminder that there are no fairy tales and there are certainly no heroes' Buzz.

'The novel's quiet beauty and scenes of extreme poignancy make it resonate beyond its pages' Daily Telegraph.

'A magnificent book' Le Monde.

'Original, brilliant and disturbing... a journey that goes to the heart of what it means to be human' Ruth Scurr, the Times.

From the Inside Flap

From his village in the mountains, Brodeck makes his solitary journeys to collect data for reports on every aspect of the natural environment, occasionally submitting these to a distant Administration. Day by day he reconstructs his own life, all but lost in the years that he spent away from his family in a camp during the war. When he returns to the village, he finds his name on the war memorial. No-one expected to see him again. Only the love he cherished for his beloved Emélia has kept him alive. The gossamer calm he has contrived is disturbed when, out of the blue, he is called upon by the Mayor to write a very different report: a detailed account of the atrocious death of the Anderer - the “other one”, the outsider who arrived on horseback a few months earlier and settled with his extravagant chattels in a room above the inn. At first welcomed as a portent of the village's recovery after the war, the stranger's flamboyance and eccentricity are viewed with increasing suspicion. His insights into the villagers' characters prove all too perceptive. With the utmost reluctance, Brodeck begins to investigate the incident. His shrewd interrogation of everyone in the village creates a record not only of the murder, but of Brodeck's own past and survival too, of his family and his place in the village. Set in the uncertain borderland between France and Germany just after the Second World War, where the dialect is like “a springy fabric” to be “stretched in every direction”, Brodeck's Report is an extraordinarily powerful, brilliantly imagined and surprisingly - given its archaeology of the souls of evil men - beautiful novel. It explores the limits of humanity, the nature of intolerance and the relationship between outsider and established community, and it does so in a narrative of exceptional fascination.

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
4.6 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
23 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A haunting masterpiece 12 Feb 2010
By Ralph Blumenau TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
It is after the Second World War, but Claudel's descriptions often call to mind a more ancient world of monumental, gnarled villagers; and the way he writes about scenery evokes now some illuminated manuscript, now paintings by Brueghel. The village is not named, but we are obviously in Alsace: the villagers have German names, and they use words in a twisted (invented?) German dialect.

Brodeck is one of them, but, unlike the others, he is far from monumental. He is timid and quivers with anxiety after his appalling experiences in a concentration camp from which he had recently returned. (There are hints, never made explicit, that he was of Jewish origin.) He has an insignificant job reporting to the local administration on the state of the local paths and streams, fauna and flora.

The villagers have murdered a man who had come to the village from Outside and whom from the beginning they had called the `Anderer' [sic - the Other], and later, more ominously, the `Fremder' [Foreigner]. Brodeck had not been present at the murder, but because he is a reporter, the villagers force him to write a report for the mayor of the village to pass on to the authorities. He had not been present because he was himself something of an Outsider, having been brought to the village as an orphan child soon after the First World War, and then having returned to it from the camp when those who had denounced him to the Germans had presumed him dead. (Just how much of an Outsider or `Fremder' he has always been considered emerges later.) It is clear from the start that the task he has been given is dangerous: for before he can carry it out, he has to question himself and others about the circumstances which had led to the murder.

He zigzags back and forth between shards of memory.
Read more ›
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A haunting masterpiece 12 Feb 2010
By Ralph Blumenau TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Hardcover
It is after the Second World War, but Claudel's descriptions often call to mind a more ancient world of monumental, gnarled villagers; and the way he writes about scenery evokes now some illuminated manuscript, now paintings by Brueghel. The village is not named, but we are obviously in Alsace: the villagers have German names, and they use words in a twisted (invented?) German dialect.

Brodeck is one of them, but, unlike the others, he is far from monumental. He is timid and quivers with anxiety after his appalling experiences in a concentration camp from which he had recently returned. (There are hints, never made explicit, that he was of Jewish origin.) He has an insignificant job reporting to the local administration on the state of the local paths and streams, fauna and flora.

The villagers have murdered a man who had come to the village from Outside and whom from the beginning they had called the `Anderer' [sic - the Other], and later, more ominously, the `Fremder' [Foreigner]. Brodeck had not been present at the murder, but because he is a reporter, the villagers force him to write a report for the mayor of the village to pass on to the authorities. He had not been present because he was himself something of an Outsider, having been brought to the village as an orphan child soon after the First World War, and then having returned to it from the camp when those who had denounced him to the Germans had presumed him dead. (Just how much of an Outsider or `Fremder' he has always been considered emerges later.) It is clear from the start that the task he has been given is dangerous: for before he can carry it out, he has to question himself and others about the circumstances which had led to the murder.

He zigzags back and forth between shards of memory.
Read more ›
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
By Feanor
Format:Hardcover
This is absolutely superb. It is the tale of outsiders in an isolated village, and how no matter how many decades an outsider spends in such a village, he will always be an outsider, and when push comes to shove, the outsider is the first to go. So what do we have here? Brodeck is the one educated man in this village somewhere in the Alsace region of France, in the period between the world wars. He had arrived there as a child and the villagers, recognising his academic potential, paid for his post-school education. When the German army marched into the village in 1940, the villagers denounced him as an outsider and he was dispatched into the concentration camps, where by means of sheer will and self-abnegation he survives and returns to the village, to find that his family has been raped and ruined. For some reason he continues to live in the village, and all the guilt and sins of the villagers are somehow buried into their subconscious. But of course this doesn't last long - when a colourful visitor appears in their midst and settles down amongst them and reflects the poisons in their natures back to them in a series of innocent paintings, the villagers kill him. As an educated man, it's Brodeck (who had nothing to do with it) tasked with writing up an account of events to the judicial authorities to exonerate the villagers' action. Brodeck complies but also writes up a separate account for his own sanity, and that is what the readers see. All manner of sickness dwells in the hearts of men, and no amount of goodness can keep it at bay. Eventually, the wicked and the strong tend to win. This is a powerful work.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars The Perfect Fiction
The author of " Grey Souls " and " Monsieur Linh and his Child ", both wonderful books,has written a sober,utterly original and shocking story in " Brodeck's... Read more
Published 4 months ago by Madeleine
4.0 out of 5 stars This one really is amazing
A holocaust novel, but a strange one, with no mention of Jews, Germany or Nazis. Arguably it is an account of a fictional, holocaust-like even rather than the historical one. Read more
Published 7 months ago by Jezza
4.0 out of 5 stars A Very good read
A very good book. While not stated, this is life in a small village in Alsace, eastern France, after WWII. Read more
Published 12 months ago by alain hertzmann
4.0 out of 5 stars mesmerising and resonant
On the face of it an account of a village in Alsace-Lorraine whose inhabitants collaborate with the Nazis and then, after the war, murder a stranger who seems to accuse them. Read more
Published 14 months ago by Bobbie
5.0 out of 5 stars A Compelling Book
The story is told with great descriptive powers, so that it always makes a deep impression. I found it an irritation that the stream of consciousness style made the author switch... Read more
Published 17 months ago by D. Kay
5.0 out of 5 stars A brilliant book
This book is so multilayered I got completely mesmerised by it.
It is beautifully written, a joy to read and a must to read again.
Published 23 months ago by Liz
5.0 out of 5 stars gripping and frightening reality
This book should be required reading as it tells us so much about humanity and the veneer of civilisation which is so easily ripped apart. Read more
Published 23 months ago by Hazelmac
4.0 out of 5 stars A report not to be missed
Slow to start but once it got going it became a compelling read. Reliving the horrors of World War II where friends and neighbours betrayed others to preserve their own safety.
Published 23 months ago by Sobriety Sam
5.0 out of 5 stars A dark fable of survival and compassion
A soon as I finished reading Claudel's post World War II fable I found myself in a disquieted daze of wonder and admiration. Read more
Published 24 months ago by Christopher Twain
5.0 out of 5 stars philosophically and emotionally rich tapestry
Brodeck's Report is an extended, multilayered parable which weaves a philosophically and emotionally rich tapestry. Read more
Published on 14 July 2012 by Rob Kitchin
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