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LOOK WHO'S BACK

by Timur Vermes

"What would happen if Adolf Hitler woke up in modern-day Berlin? In a bestselling satirical novel, he'd end up a TV comedy star … [LOOK WHO'S BACK] has unsurprisingly sparked debate in a country that has grappled for decades with Hitler's unconscionable legacy."
TIME

Timur Vermes' record-breaking bestseller, LOOK WHO'S BACK, is a satirical novel that imagines what would happen if Hilter reawakened in present-day Germany. The book was a massive success in Germany, selling more than 1.5 million copies. Janet Maslin of The New York Times called LOOK WHO'S BACK "desperately funny … an ingenious comedy of errors."

In the novel, Adolf Hitler wakes up in 2011 from a 66-year sleep in his subterranean Berlin bunker to find the Germany he knew entirely changed: Internet-driven media spreads ideas in minutes and fumes celebrity obsession; immigration has produced multicultural neighborhoods bringing together people of varying race, ethnicity, and religion; and the most powerful person in government is a woman. Hitler is immediately recognized … as an impersonator of uncommon skill. The public assumes the fulminating leader of the Nazi party is a performer who is always in character, and soon his inevitable viral appeal begets YouTube stardom, begets television celebrity on a Turkish-born comedian's show. His bigoted rants are mistaken for a theatrical satire—exposing prejudice and misrepresentation—and his media success emboldens Hitler to start his own political party, and set the country he finds a shambles back to rights.

With daring and dark humor, LOOK WHO'S BACK skewers the absurdity and depravity of the cult of personality in modern media culture.


Timur VermesThe son of a German mother and a Hungarian father who fled the country in 1956, Timur Vermes was born in Nuremberg in 1967. He studied history and politics and went on to become a journalist. He has written for the Abendzeitung and the Cologne Express and worked for various magazines. He has ghostwritten several books since 2007. This is his first novel.



PRAISE

"You know his name. You know his face. You know his hair and mustache, which are caricatured with sharp, witty minimalism on the cover of LOOK WHO'S BACK, in which a baffled Adolf Hitler is returned to the even more baffled German people. Now you'll also know Timur Vermes, whose debut novel has created a sensation in Germany. [LOOK WHO'S BACK] is desperately funny … Mr. Vermes has created an ingenious comedy of errors in which the jokes are either on Hitler's misapprehensions about the modern world or the modern world's refusal to take him at face value … Read this book."
—Janet Maslin, The New York Times

"Very funny … The frisson of reading LOOK WHO'S BACK comes from its seamless transition from Borscht Belt one-liners to disturbing invocations of the legacies of Nazi rule. Mr. Vermes gives us a bracingly double-sided Hitler—the arresting public speaker and astute negotiator who loves dogs and small children, and also the fanatical champion of political violence, global tyranny and ethnic cleansing … Translator Jamie Bulloch helps by providing a glossary at the close of the book, but what people will remember is his perfect rendering of the ridiculously orotund, yet oddly compelling, manner of Hitler's speechifying."
The Wall Street Journal

"We're startled into a genuine laugh … Vermes plays all of this straight, or at least deadpan. He is not a historian, but his presentation of the minutiae of Hitler's life amounts to an impressive feat of historical research … the ventriloquism here is impressive … The most striking and provocative feature of the narrative, in fact, is not the decision to resurrect Hitler but the choice to use him as a first-person narrator — to risk telling us more about Hitler than could be known, in Forster's phrase."
—Daniel Torday, The New York Times

"LOOK WHO'S BACK is Hitler satire at its best … while there has been much debate over whether or why it's appropriate to laugh at Vermes's relentless Hitler satire, this well-researched and uproariously cringe-worthy book makes it hard not to … It is ultimately a sort of commentary on Hitler's first ascent to power-on the point at which a charismatic man starts being taken seriously, and what that transition entails … laugh-out-loud funny."
Newsday

"[A] wickedly satiric first novel … Hitler is, of course, deadly serious, and the dissonance between his earnest bigotry and the vacuousness of our media-soaked age is the comic grist that propels the novel toward its truly ironic conclusion. While German journalist Vermes has a good deal to say about the state of contemporary Germany, his reach here is more universal, as he's crafted a sardonic send-up of a media and a world where the message doesn't matter so long as your ratings are high and your videos go viral on YouTube."
Library Journal

"Hilarious … The appeal of the story is our our own reaction to a monster's view of how we live today. And being chilled by our own empathy with his disgust toward the media, politicians, government and, of course, technology … Vermes could have made the star of this book anyone from history. He's really telling us about ourselves."
—Esther Cepeda, The Washington Post

"What would happen if Adolf Hitler woke up in modern-day Berlin? In a bestselling satirical novel, he'd end up a TV comedy star … [LOOK WHO'S BACK] has unsurprisingly sparked debate in a country that has grappled for decades with Hitler's unconscionable legacy."
TIME