- Reader profile
[ book tip by Incentives ]
In the tradition of literary dystopias such as George Orwell’s 1984 or Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World, Thomas Sautner bitingly describes a fictitious society in an unspecified location in the future. This genre of the anti-utopia is characterized by the outline of an authoritarian or totalitarian regime completely equipped with a comprehensive and repressive function for monitoring society. As a reward for civil obedience, the state guarantees the provision of care and security: “The Caring Mom Program – protection, warmth and a feeling of security in a dangerous, cold and unfeeling time” is the propaganda slogan of the new government, to which Sautner’s main character, Jack Blind, belongs as the right-hand man of the president, Mike Forell. Jack, a strict conformist, is convinced that dissent and individuality are evil and works on strategies to wipe them out once and for all.
For his own good and the good of the public at large, the individual should be deprived of the right to make any decisions. “My dream is to make life better for the country and its people,” Jack explains at the beginning of the novel to his skeptical sister Gwendolyn. “Do you still not realize that we live in a dictatorship, a dictatorship, which takes life from us, which takes our own self away?” she says in an attempt to open her brother’s eyes. But Jack stands by the prevailing political system and refuses to entertain any doubt – until he experiences for himself the arbitrariness of the supposed Rule of Law.
“None are more hopelessly enslaved than those who falsely believe they are free.” This quote by Goethe, which is chosen as a motto, sounds almost like a warning. It is because Fremdes Land (Strange Country) is uncannily familiar, the development toward the transparent citizen today already being well advanced. It is precisely the fact that the story is set within the horizon of the reader’s experience that is this book’s strength and that turns dealing with this fiction into a riveting experience.
Abbreviated review by Martina Wunderer, October 2010.
English translation by Hillary Keel.
Complete version in German: http://www.literaturhaus.at/index.php?id=7791
[ book info ] Sautner, Thomas: Fremdes Land.
(Book language: Deutsch)
No results found