Let me introduce this week’s column as The Truth About The Harry Quebert Affair by Joel Dicker, one of the best books I’ve ever read. Considering the volume of books that I read, that’s saying something. Once I discovered Khaled Hosseini’s A Thousand Splendid Suns, I was convinced nothing else could come close to leaving me so stunned. Now, I have a problem. Both novels are absolutely explosive – but in different ways. I’m resolving that there’s no such thing (for me) as having a favourite book, instead I have a favourite book in every genre… That’s definitely not cheating.
Now I’m past the initial fangirling moment of finishing The Truth About The Harry Quebert Affair, I’m going to explain why this novel is so impressive because I really didn’t expect it to be. I read plenty of thrillers, so many that I’ve almost ruined the genre for myself because none of them seem to stand out any more.
The Truth About The Harry Quebert Affair is in fact a French novel that’s won 3 French literary prizes, been translated into 32 languages and sold over 2 million copies in a year. Across Europe readers are going absolutely mental because Joel Dicker has managed to create an intelligent plot with countless twists across a whopping 616 pages. Even in the final chapter the story keeps changing and as a reader you are truly taken on a mind-blowing journey.
Swiss lawyer Joel Dicker wrote the novel about a man who is also writing a novel, which uncovers a forbidden love affair between an older man and teenage girl and unravels the mystery of her murder. Sounds creepy, right? It is. In the small town of Somerset, New Hampshire, everyone looks both guilty and innocent at once and your suspicions are thrown about by minute details you never thought could be of much importance.
Besides the genius plot, Dicker also tackles issues with the publishing industry with some brave satire. He forces the reader to consider that: yes, someone murdered Nola and that person seems evil, but a publishing company and lawyers want to make money off her death, how messed up is that? And that’s reality!
I could write for hours on how inspired I am by the meticulous nature of The Truth About The Harry Quebert Affair because Joel Dicker managed to create an original and inventive masterpiece in a cluttered genre full of same-y stories. As an aspiring author, I find this particularly important to remember because sometimes it can feel as though a story has been told a million times before and there is no space left to be creative. It’s not about finding that space, it’s about making it, and producing something that no one else has ever even dreamed of. Joel Dicker, 28 years old, created space for a new, incredible thriller – it can be done.
Jessikah Hope Stenson