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Seven Lies

3.25  ·  Rating Details ·  186 Ratings  ·  27 Reviews
Part political thriller, part meditation on the nature of desire and betrayal, Seven Lies tells the story of Stefan Vogel, a young East German, whose yearnings for love, glory, and freedom express themselves in a lifelong fantasy of going to America. By a series of increasingly dangerous maneuvers, he makes this fantasy come true, his past seemingly locked behind the Berli ...more
Paperback, 208 pages
Published November 17th 2006 by W. W. Norton & Company (first published January 1st 2005)
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Sue Davis
May 13, 2014 Sue Davis rated it really liked it
Shelves: thriller, fiction, german
Another unreliable narrator but this time one who admits his lies but then how do we know these aren't lies as well. Dissident poet in East Germany who never wrote--or read-anything.
Alison Hardtmann
Nov 22, 2016 Alison Hardtmann rated it really liked it
I was living in Munich when the old Stasi (East German secret police) files were opened. It was a wrenching experience for many, and fought against for many years. People went and looked at their files and discovered which of their friends and even family members had informed on them. Many others didn't want to know, still others watched their lives collapse as it was revealed that they'd been Stasi informers. The numbers were staggering and it seemed as if half of the DDR had been carefully ...more
Oct 18, 2016 Toby rated it it was amazing
Fantastic. Beautifully written as befits a genuine poet (unlike the protagonist). I think this has great depth and power. A thought-provoking read about deception, whether physical, political, psychological, philosophical...
Hannah Marker
Jan 29, 2012 Hannah Marker rated it liked it
Shelves: 2011
Seven Lies is not the easiest book to read. While many I'm sure, myself occasionally included, will trip from time to time over the vocabulary used to write this book I find what makes the book hardest to read it the attitude of the main character whose perspective the story is told from. In parts of this book he seems to be just alive not diminishing not improving not happy nor sad just there and in his period of just existing I find myself easily distracted still reading but off in my head ...more
Mar 08, 2010 Tom rated it really liked it
Shelves: novels
Though the cover blurb about "knuckle-whitening tension of a thriller" is overblown, Lasdun does confirm a chilling insight: repressive regimes often succeed by recruiting their own citizens to do their dirty work for them. This was especially true in the former East Germany. Instead of crafting startling plot twists (the narrator's "lie" is fairly predictable), Lasdun focuses on portraying the pervasive corruption of a society in which even those on the lowest levels have the power to withhold ...more
Aug 03, 2014 Terence rated it it was ok
I found this to be a disappointing read, all in all. Lasdun writes beautifully, but on occasion he has too fine a temperament to sustain the reader's interest for anything longer than a long short story. But in my opinion, a novel requires more than just endless psychological reflection; it needs at some point the drama of an intensely active life. The novel opens with the narrator having a glass of wine thrown in his face at a cocktail party in New York in 2003 or so. The novel is about why ...more
Jul 15, 2008 bannikin rated it liked it
Not in a horror-flick-gone-wild kind of way, rather in a chilling, squicky fashion. The story is like a particularly horrible, yet riveting car crash. Something verging on obscene, yet radiating a twisted human essence.

There's East Germany post-Stalin. With all it's recursive layers of surveillance.

There's the protagonist, Stefan Vogel. So explanatory. So lacking intent. So very quick to do the unthinkable for reasons warped-ly almost-understandable.

There's Stefan's brother and father and mother
Martyn Lovell
Aug 05, 2014 Martyn Lovell rated it really liked it
Seven Lies is a short novel about how weakness of character can result in immorality - perhaps has a result of repression and lack of aspiration, but perhaps also simply as a convenience. It is this ethical quagmire that is the foundation for the novel.

The subject is Stefan Vogel, an East German growing up in the GDR, then later moving to the USA. Stefan's story begins in childhood with his family's compromised situation and extends many years after he moves to the USA, and his past eventually c
Dec 03, 2012 Abigail rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2010
A short, uncomfortable novel that relates the story of Stefan Vogel, who left East Germany with his wife in 1986 to go live in the United States. The story starts in 2003 or so, then goes back to his childhood up to the time leading up to his departure, describing the circumstances that led up to it. The characters aren't very likeable, not even in a love-to-hate way - throughout I just felt a kind of contemptuous pity. They are all, unfortunately, the products of living under an oppressive ...more
Apr 03, 2013 Robin rated it really liked it
I enjoyed this one. Second book I've read on my kindle. The primary character is a compromised individual who carries himself along based on an early bit of mischief and deception. It catches up to him, or does it, and what are the consequences, if any.
Some very good writing, a few digressions, recommended. By the author of the recent book about being stalked, Give Me Everything You Have (a real event in the life of the author, which is also worth reading, plenty of diversions as well, but mostl
Jul 10, 2011 Katherine rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
“The milk of human kindness may not have flowed in our household, but the milk of judicious approval for prowess in sanctioned fields could occasionally be made to trickle” (55-56).
“The rows of people before me resembled nothing so much as the teeth of a gaping shark, ready to tear me apart. I wanted to flee from it, but it seems I also wanted to put my head in its mouth” (56-57).
“(The strange compulsion to note these things down. About as useful as a corpse growing fingernails!)” (171).
“…she sa
Dec 29, 2007 Tom rated it really liked it
I thought this book was very well written and enjoyed the story as well. Although I can see how some would characterize the story as depressing, I really didn’t find it that. From the beginning I understood and accepted the fact that, no matter what the action, it had already happened and so, like the protagonist, my reaction was not emotional but I was allowed to enjoy the prose. I also thought it painted a realistic (not that I know) portrait of life and paranoia in East Germany.
Lasdun is king of really tense, tight potboilers, this one involving the East German secret police, beatnik writers, and decisions you might want to take back. It begins with a glass of wine thrown in the protagonist's face at some fancy gallery opening and works its way backward. It's not a spy thriller; it's a character study. That seems to have disappointed some reviewers, but Lasdun's writing is always exquisite.
Bookworm Amir
Jul 05, 2011 Bookworm Amir rated it did not like it
A really boring book. It was okay at the beginning, but I did not understand the ending at all. Its as though a part of the book was missing (and it wasn't). The premise of the story was great because it sounded A LOT like my own personal life. However it turned to God knows a historical aspect and such and I got lost half way through the book already. I regretted getting this book.
Jun 01, 2008 Coqueline rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I could not like this book at all even though I finished it. The main character has got to be the most apathetic character I've ever read in a book. I didn't see the point why anybody would write story about somebody who never really makes his own decisions but simply roll with whatever's easiest. I gave it away as soon as I finished it.
Krishna Bhogaonker
Jun 04, 2009 Krishna Bhogaonker rated it liked it
An interesting story about life in East Germany, and the fact that everyone was informing on everyone else. I liked it because the story was just the story. The book did not try to be anything more or less than it was.
Jul 24, 2007 Mark rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A fascinating novel about an East German poet who builds his reputation on plagiarism and other lies. I'm struggling to remember the details now, but the overall strength and vast interior landscape of the book impressed me.
Zach Freeman
Jan 18, 2010 Zach Freeman rated it it was amazing
Great story with an unlikeable protagonist. James Lasdun manages to get into the psyche of his main character, writing in first person and somehow getting readers to relate to a character that is, by most any account, pathetic and despicable.
Sue Kozlowski
Aug 11, 2013 Sue Kozlowski rated it did not like it
Stefan grows up in East Germany. Is a socialist. He comes to America with Igne. I didn't understand a lot of it.
Oct 16, 2009 Lini rated it it was ok
I am only reading this because Amazon hasn't shipped my book yet! I didn't want to start something I couldn't put far a real downer. Ann gave this book to me at the book swap.
Paul Fulcher
Paul Fulcher rated it it was ok
Jul 27, 2014
Brian Albanese
Brian Albanese rated it really liked it
Jul 18, 2016
Thomas rated it liked it
Jan 17, 2008
BD Miller
BD Miller rated it really liked it
Mar 23, 2016
Artūrs Lūsis
Artūrs Lūsis rated it it was amazing
Jan 04, 2016
Maggie Bruce-konuah
Maggie Bruce-konuah rated it liked it
Sep 11, 2012
Bill rated it it was ok
Mar 27, 2015
Nina rated it liked it
May 16, 2009
Guy McElwaine
Guy McElwaine rated it really liked it
Dec 07, 2016
Sammyb rated it it was amazing
Sep 17, 2014
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James Lasdun was born in London and now lives in upstate New York. He has published two novels as well as several collections of short stories and poetry. He has been long-listed for the Man Booker Prize and short-listed for the Los Angeles Times, T. S. Eliot, and Forward prizes in poetry; and he was the winner of the inaugural U.K./BBC Short Story Prize. His nonfiction has been published in ...more
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