Juli Zeh was born in 1974 in Bonn. She has worked for the UN in New York, Krakow and Zagreb. She lives in Leipzig.
This is a graphic, gritty novel about the world of international drug traffickers and the people whose lives it ruins. The story takes place in Vienna and opens when Clara, a local radio talk-show host, visits Max's apartment to hear his whole story. Max has phoned her talk show a few times, relating his bizarre and incredible life story as a coke head. He is obsessed with the suicide of his girlfriend, Jessie, daughter of an Austrian drug kingpin, who shot herself while on the phone with him. A complex tale slowly unfolds, as readers try to sort out what is real and what is not. A climax involving all of the characters is truly stunning. Winner of the German Book Award for Most Successful Debut Novel, this suspenseful work displays the author's gift for writing-especially her very effective similes. Nevertheless, the subject matter will limit this novel to selective readers in large public libraries and academic libraries where fiction dealing with the drug culture is studied.-Lisa Rohrbaugh, East Palestine Memorial P.L., OH Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
A haze of drug addiction and anomie hangs over this bleak tale of obsessive love and underworld dealings, the first novel by a young German writer. When Max, a successful Viennese attorney in his early 30s, is left desperate and forlorn following the suicide of his girlfriend, Jessie, he calls Clara, a 23-year-old radio host. Far from lending a sympathetic ear-when Max recalls that Jessie shot herself while on the phone with him, Clara says, "[S]urely there must have been blood and brains all over it"-she wants his story for her psychology dissertation. In exchange for being put up at her apartment, Max finally agrees to talk into a DAT recorder between lines of coke. As he tells it, he first met Jessie at boarding school, where she was dating his roommate, Shershah, and dealing coke for her sinister father, Herbert, and brother, Ross. Tiny and unstable, Jessie reenters Max's life 12 years later and sucks him into her downward spiral. As Max continues spinning his tale on tape, he begins to uncover larger conspiracies and connections that threaten not only him but also his odd partnership with Clara and his memories of Jessie. Folding the story of Max's tortured love for both women into a larger chronicle of European drug smuggling and related war crimes, Zeh weaves a nightmarishly effective tale of personal and societal collapse. (Nov.) Forecast: Zeh has been compared to Michel Houllebecq, and readers looking for another grim vision of contemporary Europe-with an action-adventure twist (think Run Lola Run)-will find much to appreciate here. Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
"Bret Easton Ellis and Michel Houellebecq have already made a bitter and chilly criticism of our times; now Juli Zeh walks right through in her own way ... She has succeeded in writing her novel with imaginativeness, a contemporary feel, and high intelligence."