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Summer House with Swimming Pool by Herman Koch

This book was an ‘epic read’ as my students would have said it. In my words, it was ‘superbly awesome.’ Herman Koch’s unputdownable book simply titled Summer House with Swimming Pool is a work of art.

It’s dirty—but deep, it is poignant— but drifting, and it is disturbing, but exciting all the same. Narrated by the main protagonist who is a GP called Marc, the story flows into a rhythm of suspense and plot twists that makes the reader stare in complete awe at the masterpiece of a thriller that he is reading. The characters here make you laugh, smile, sneer, gag, hate, etc., drawing out the emotions necessary on the part of the reader to complete the story and understand its implications to perfection.

Sam Garrett translated the English version of this Dutch novel.  I applaud the translator for doing such an efficient and excellent job with Herman Koch’s original masterpiece, for you feel that you are reading a Lee Child or a Patterson or a Nesser or a Baldacci.

But it’s better! Ten times better and richer! I’m so overwhelmed by this book and its master of the craft ‘synopsis’ that states the main mystery without divulging too much about the plot, which is the best thing possible where this fabulous book is concerned.

I am dying to head back to my library or the bookstore and pick up another book by Herman Koch, most probably his bestselling work, The Dinner. Summer House with Swimming Pool is a 409-page book but does not make heavy reading. There is a healthy blend of reflection and storytelling with a bit of philosophy tossed in at crucial moments.

I thought I was watching a Hollywood movie at the edge of my seat —the book was that spectacular. The climax is a complete surprise, and you will be up all night thinking about it even after the story is done and over with. This will happen because of the poignant questions asked by the writer through his protagonist, who is quite a shady character himself. If you want to be shocked and scandalised with the thrill of a perfect, viciously funny thriller, then Herman Koch is the writer for you.

All in all a perfect read by a master of the craft, Herman Koch. And, thanks once again to the translator for a job well done!


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Fiza Pathan

Fiza Pathan is a teacher, publisher, and award-winning author of ten books. She has won over forty literary awards. She lives with her maternal family in Mumbai and writes novels and short stories spanning diverse genres. She blogs on