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A Stuga On the Cusp of the Orust Riviera, tucked away next to a hobbit hole in the woods.

The Luneburg Variation by Paolo Maurensig

The Luneburg Variation - Paolo Maurensig

bookshelves: one-penny-wonder, translation, mystery-thriller, winter-20102011, published-1998, wwii, holocaust-genocide, historical-fiction, recreational-homicide, war

Recommended to ☯Bettie☯ by: Michael Moxysox
Read from January 18 to 19, 2011


** spoiler alert ** Translated by Jon Rothschild.

They say that chess was born in bloodshed.

Fantastic scene setting here.


A man is found shot in his garden, in a village not far from Vienna. Unable to be defined as either a suicide or a homicide, the death is called one of "mysterious circumstances." The garden--unlike the prominent citizen's life--is highly unusual, a "concentric maze of ten-foot-high hedges leading to a chessboard-shaped clearing paved with squares of white and black marble." Frisch, the murdered man, was obsessed with chess, and the novel's chilling first sentence--"They say that chess was born in bloodshed"--bears this out.

In this first novel, Paolo Maurensig coolly executes the ultimate drama of manipulation--life as a game of chess. On this armature, he hangs a tale of vengeance set against a backdrop of historic villainy, Nazi against Jew. The two chess players are as black and white as can be--a persecuted Jew and a ruthless, persecuting German who first "duel" over a chessboard in an international tournament, and then in a concentration camp. The narrative is a meticulous reconstruction of the moments and background events that led to Frisch's death. Ingeniously referring everything back to the machinations and executions of movements in a chess game, life itself is at stake as the inescapable sins of the past catch up with the chess-obsessed characters.