WSBG reviews The Assault by Harry Mulisch


In a nutshell, this “novel that probes moral devastation in the wake of the slaughter of an innocent family by the Nazis in retaliation for the association with a Dutch collaborator.”

As World War II was winding down but the Nazis still occupied Holland, Haarlem’s chief inspector of police (a Nazi collaborator described as “the greatest murderer and traitor in Haarlem”) is shot and killed in front of the home of little Anton’s neighbor. The assassination sets off a series of tragic events, in which Anton alone in his family survives. Much of the rest of his life (and the book) is spent unravelling what led to and followed this “episode.”

Apparently, this book is widely read in the Netherlands (required reading in high school?) but it sure took us a long time to discover it. We pretty much loved it. Loved the writing (although we don’t entirely know how to judge that in a translated book), loved the story. Loved how things fit together by the end.

Very highly recommended. Four thumbs way up! (It must be said: four thumbs up in this picky group is pretty frickin rare!)

We had a second book assigned this month, but I forgot to take it with me to Web 2.0 so I didn’t finish it in time. We put off discussing it until our May meeting. I have been reading diligently.