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The Pigeon by Patrick Süskind

The Pigeon (1987)

by Patrick Süskind

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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1,139287,185 (3.59)84
  1. 00
    The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka (P_S_Patrick)
    P_S_Patrick: Short, deeply existentialist novels of literary character.
  2. 00
    The Stranger by Albert Camus (P_S_Patrick)
    P_S_Patrick: Short, deeply existentialist novels of literary character.
  3. 00
    The Trick is to Keep Breathing by Janice Galloway (chrissybob)

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English (19)  French (4)  German (2)  Norwegian (1)  Hebrew (1)  Spanish (1)  All (28)
Showing 1-5 of 19 (next | show all)
At only 77 pages, this is a short novella comparable in its unsettling effect to the best existentialist novellas by Camus and Kafka. The main character lives a very boring but dependable and respectable life on his own in Paris, where he has worked for 30 years in the same job as a bank security guard. He seems fairly stable and relatively content despite his previous traumatic life, until he is perturbed by the presence of the pidgeon.
While there are moments when this book is peculiarly comic, its best strength is the realistic insight it gives onto the state of anxiety that can be induced by the most trivial thing in individuals with certain psychological states or phobias - how everything can suddenly spiral out of control in the mind. The end was very good, and this comes highly recommended to those who enjoy psychological literature, existentialist works, or to the general reader. ( )
  P_S_Patrick | Sep 14, 2017 |
After failing at marriage and most other facets of life Jonathan Noel has isolated himself from other people. He has slipped into a fixed routine of of work and socio-cultural impoverishment outside of work. A disruptive event though leads him on an abrupt transformative journey. Jonathan is to some degree every person, someone like John Lennon's Nowhere Man, who is a "bit like you and me". There is a surreal Kafkaesque atmosphere throughout this short novel that reflects the way Jonathan perceives the external world. Yet unlike Kafka stories, there is a shaft of light or two manages to beam through in the end. ( )
  bkinetic | May 20, 2017 |
First sentence:

"At the time the pigeon affair overtook him, unhinging his life from one day to the next, Jonathan Noel, already past fifty, could look back over a good twenty-year period of total uneventfulness and would never have expected anything of importance could ever overtake him again--other than death someday.

I loved Perfume by Patrick Suskind, and so was expecting to also very much like The Pigeon, which is on the 1001 list. It is short, and superficially simple, but I'm not sure I understand what it means.

Jonathan Noel has been a security guard at a Paris bank for many years. He lives a solitary life in a rented room on the 7th floor of a nearby boarding house. He is a creature of habit--until the day the pigeon arrived. Following his usual routine, Jonathan's first action of the day would have been to go down the hall to use the shared toilet. But when he opens the door to the hallway, there is a pigeon crouched outside his door, glaring up at him. He finds himself frightened and unable to move. Finally he slams the door, and as we follow him over the next 24 hours or so, his well-ordered world begins to crumble.

I guess you could describe the book as "Kafkaesque", but I think on a much simpler level. One reviewer on Amazon said that if Perfume is a feast, then The Pigeon is a snack. I certainly didn't find much there.

2 1/2 stars ( )
  arubabookwoman | Mar 30, 2017 |
On the face of it this is a short novella ( 77 pages ) about a difficult day in the life of 53 year old security guard which starts with an encounter with a pigeon but wait - Noooooooo - it is so so much more than that. This is about being a prisoner of life, it is about fear of living and what someone will do to protect themselves from pain sometimes all their lives. It is about lonely, invisible people with a story to tell. Jonathan went from a happy go lucky day as a child during the war to WHAM - no mother - wham no father - it is the war and they were taken by persons unknown ( the Nazis ? ) - Patrick Suskind intimates the reasons for these wartime disappearances. The boy is rescued by his uncle but his life limps along from bad to worse filled with abandonment, disappointment and confusion - until he takes the decision to go his own way. For over 30 years he lives a frugal, controlled, aloof existence - and then a pigeon appears and his controlled life begins to unravel.

When you live a small life the slightest variance is a very big thing - we see Jonathan mentally spiral out of control. Panic and anxiety attacks, unresolved childhood trauma it all comes flooding back and Jonathon has to now face up to his demons - will he survive?

What a great piece of writing - in a novella every word counts and Suskind has handled the subject gently, accurately and with realism.

It is not just a bad day - it's an epiphany.

It is also set in Paris which I loved as I have a thing about Paris at the moment. ( )
  MarianneHusbands | Feb 6, 2017 |
The premise seemed promising but I found this uninspiring. ( )
  Vivl | Aug 15, 2013 |
Showing 1-5 of 19 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Süskind, Patrickprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Agabio, GiovannaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Giralt, PilarTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Jonkers, RonaldTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lortholary, BernardTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Woods, John E.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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At the time the pigeon affair overtook him, unhinging his life from one day to the next, Jonathan Noel, already past fifty, could look back over a good twenty-year period of total uneventfulness and would never have expected anything of importance could ever overtake him again - other than death someday.
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Penguin Australia

2 editions of this book were published by Penguin Australia.

Editions: 0140105832, 0141045264

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