Elfriede Jelinek (4 stars)

Greed (Serpent’s Tail)


Like Austrian feminist writer Elfriede Jelinek’s novel The Piano Teacher, Greed has taken almost five years to be translated. This, however, probably has more to do with our penchant for feelgood celebrity literature than the contempt for the human race exhibited in all of this Nobel Prize winner’s work. For the reader, tenacity and endurance always pay dividends.

The plot, involving the small town murder of a teenage girl and a promiscuous village policeman so mired in property greed he is almost a caricature, is really just a canvas upon which Jelinek splurges her wretched impressions and regret at the violent survival of civilisation at all costs. This is complex, destructive literature that is defined then torn apart but with the underlying punkish humour evident in the works of her compatriots Thomas Bernhard, Robert Musil and Peter Handke. Greed is another intriguing and challenging novel from Europe’s cleverest, most visceral social phobic.

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