Because I liked the premise of this book by the 2014 Man Booker Price winner, I thought I’ll give it a try.
Title: First Person
Author: Richard Flanagan
Publishers: Penguin Random House Australia
Genre: Fiction, Thriller
What’s it about?
“First Person” is a quiet yet violent thriller which begins with the protagonist Kif Kehlmann being offered a commission to ghost-write the memoir of Siegfried Heidl.
Heidl is a notorious con-man and corporate criminal awaiting trial. And Kif is a writer desperate for a well-paying job. How hard could it be anyway?
Little does Kif realise he would put his integrity on the line, even his morality and at times, sanity it seems.
The reader is taken on the journey of a man facing a moral crisis, culminating in an act which even Kif could not have foreseen.
Despite the interesting premise of this book, it was difficulty for me to move forth with it. The narrative seems “stuck” and so is the plot. Heidl feels one-dimensional, as I looked for depth and change in the character. Interestingly, Heidl is based on a real-life con artist John Freidrich whom the author interviewed early in his career as a journalist. Perhaps this explains the more intimate and relaxed feel of the book in parts where Kif is present.
The interactions between Kif and Heidl, and between Kif and Ray, Kif’s friend and Heidl’s gopher, are worthy reading even if they feel surreal at times. Kif ultimately becomes a witness to Heidl’s destruction.
Would I recommend it?
Yes, if you are prepared to see beyond the structural difficulties.
My rating: 3.5 /5
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