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3.80  ·  Rating details ·  2,269 ratings  ·  256 reviews
Das Böse steckt in uns allen und macht kaum jemals eine Ausnahme: Iben, Malene, Anne-Lise und Camilla arbeiten gemeinsam im Büro des dänischen Zentrums für Völkerrecht. Gegenseitig machen sie sich das Leben zur Hölle. Als eine von ihnen eine anonyme Todesdrohung erhält, gewinnt ihr Taktieren eine neue Qualität.
Paperback, 672 pages
Published September 2006 by Piper (first published 2004)
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Average rating 3.80  · 
Rating details
 ·  2,269 ratings  ·  256 reviews

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Nov 25, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: distant-lands, table
im frequently torn, when rating books, between rating based on merit, or rating based on my enjoyment. this is probably a three-star book, merit-wise. and yet i got totally sucked into it and really enjoyed it, despite its flaws. its a very well-paced thriller that requires a certain suspension of disbelief but is not terribly flawed. and my desire to finish reading it has made my thanskgiving feast delayed by three hours, so...
Jason Pettus
Aug 30, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
(The much longer full review can be found at the Chicago Center for Literature and Photography [].)

"Ignoring the small flash of doubt in yourself -- that is what evil is. Nobody thinks of himself as evil, but that deception is part of evil's nature. And you can't lie to yourself all the time. Once in awhile, there's that moment when you question if you are doing the right thing. And that's your only chance to choose what is good, to do the right thing. And the moment lasts maybe f
Jan 06, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
What a book. The sort of book you walk away from disoriented. It isn't just physically heavy at 512 pages (though weightless on Kindle), it's also heavy in every other sense of the word. Such a deceptively simple story about inner strife of a small office spun into such a powerhouse of psychological suspense. Four women working in a center for information on genocide turn their lives into a Sartre style nightmare, subtly, slowly turning their office and personal lives into a psychological battle ...more
Dec 07, 2007 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: readingforschool
Note to author: Most women do not act like those really awful 13-year-olds you encountered in middle school. Get over it.
I was assigned this book by my adviser for an independent study. All I had to do was read it - not write anything, and I was happy about that. However, now that I'm not required to do any more academic writing, and no one is really "listening," I feel compelled to put in my two cents. I know - ironic.

In short, I am NOT a fan of this book. The basic premise is interestin
Jim Coughenour
Aug 15, 2008 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: cheerful people
Normally, if a book hasn't engaged me in the first 50 pages, I'll set it aside. Life's too short for bad books. I don't know why, exactly, I made an exception for The Exception. The first 400 of its 500 pages embeds you in the inner life of four pathetic, slightly deranged women who all work in the same office – all of whom are obsessed with the tedious minutiae of their work life. Toward the end the story shifts into an awful parody of a late-night TV police serial, complete with hideous cartoo ...more
Feb 11, 2009 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
This is a top-notch, meaty psychological thriller that takes you inside a small office dedicated to research into genocide. There, the five office workers simultaneously dig into the very nature of evil as they study the most inhumane acts ever perpetrated, while they quietly destroy each other's lives with office politics and interpersonal bullying. Buried not-so-deep beneath the surface of even the seemingly closest friendships and politest collegiality apparently lurks seething resentments th ...more
Oct 16, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Meave by: everyone!
Sometimes, characters in fully formed television worlds watch their own television, which is a device to comment on the events in the television show, and on the television show itself; you know, meta-TV. This book uses articles about genocide as the TV show inside the TV show, to comment on and help explain the actions in the novel, which is set in the fictional Danish Center for Information on Genocide.

The narrative is almost exclusively third-person limited, but it alternates between the empl
I really struggled through this book. I wanted to like it, to get into the subject matter and what the author was trying to say.but there were a lot of problems with it. First, it was translated from Danish and that just didn't work. It was very choppy, without flow. I hope it was better in its original language. Second, there was a lot of repetition. A lot. Really. Third, and probably the worst defect is that the characters were, well, hideous. Women who are competent professionals, with incred ...more
Jim Elkins
Mixing fiction and nonfiction

This is an interesting, memorable book. It's about women who work in a genocide research center. They write reports on evil, genocide, and other subjects, and then we read what they've written, embedded in the novel. What matters in this book is the extremely unusual mixture of fiction and nonfiction. The facts in those reports are all real; I learned, for example, about theories of evil in the Third Reich beginning with Arendt and continuing to the present.

But then
Sep 25, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: aficionados of denmark, genocide
Being as it's very educational for a novel, this book depressed the fuck out of me, and my view of humanity still has not fully recovered from reading it. The best parts were the sections on actual genocide, and the actual story and characters took awhile to engage me, but they eventually did. It's interesting to learn about the calm, stoic Danish people and their way of life, which evidently involves Scandinavian furniture, a terrible job market, being stalked by Serbian war criminals, and quie ...more
Aug 08, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
First I could not put it a day later I finished all 500 pages and can't stop thinking about it. A great read....not a comfortable read, but well worth it. Not an easy subject...but a very satisfying read. How many times do we think we are so "right" when our actions indicate otherwise? ...more
Nov 15, 2008 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Christian Jungersen’s The Exception is a gripping psychological thriller that dissects the perversions of human nature with a scalpel. Stitched into the narrative are studies on the nature of evil and accounts of real historical genocide, documenting patterns of savagery and entitlement that Jungersen then deftly reproduces in his characters. A recipient of the Danish Radio and Golden Laurels Prizes, nominee of literary awards throughout Europe, and New York Times Editor’s Pick, The Exception is ...more
Mar 20, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2011, favorites
For me personally, this is a 5 star book, though it is not a book I would recommend to just anyone. Subject matter can at times be harsh.
I would lump this in a Secret History/The Likeness/Natsuo Kirino's Out category. The category of a "normal" or good person doing evil things and how that manifests within them. This was a very slow book to start and patience will win out. There are some very tense parts of the book and at times I felt there were some very Hitchcock like moments. The slow simmer
Jan 07, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone looking for a good psychological drama
Anytime I try to describe this, it comes off sounding boring or depressing. While it's not a light book, and I wouldn't describe it as a page-turner, either, it was gripping and I could easily read it for an hour or two at a time, only putting it down and turning off the light when my eyes started to hurt. It was, bizarrely, a perfect accompaniment to the library management class I'm taking - but please don't interpret that as meaning it's boring. The management class is dull, but not this book. ...more
I found this book to be quite riveting and thought provoking. Set in Denmark, it explores the relationship between four women who work at the Danish Center for Information on Genocide. When two of the women receive death threats the office is thrown into turmoil. The subject matter was quite dark but by shifting the narrative among the various character's points of view the suspense was sustained throughout the entire 500 pages. ...more
Apr 20, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Adam by: someone on twitter?
Heartily recommend this. A Scandinavian thriller about four women who work at an NGO that studies genocide, using the language/concepts from that field to explore the conflict, which ranges from office drama to murder to genocide.
Christina Stind
Christian Jungersen's book has been much talked about here in Denmark. It seems like everybody has read it and most people have loved it as well. I finally got around to reading it, and while I was well entertained while reading it, it wasn't as good as I expected it to be.
Undtagelsen (The Exception) is about four women working together at the Danish Centre for Genocide Information. The two youngest women, Iben and Malene, are old friends and they are in charge of the office, leaving the two old
Barbara Rhine
May 07, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Exception, by Christian Jungerson, on the other hand, is oddly compelling for the opposite reason. Set in the nonprofit Danish Center for Information on Genocide (DCIG), the book is about the surprisingly cut-throat competition among the women scholars who work there. There are threats from a mysterious and deadly source, and the women spend a lot of time suspecting one another. Two women bully a third, pretty much just because they don’t like her. One woman, apparently happily-married, has ...more
Mardel Fehrenbach
Nov 02, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An excellent, fascinating, probably somewhat controversial, and certainly unnerving novel. Some of the clunkiness of the prose may be due to the translation. It is a gripping story of good and evil, of interpersonal politics, and how even being " a good person" and "doing the right thing" does not necessarily protect you from the evil within. Little evils often add up to something bigger, and the convoluted story line and petty office politics have enough realism to ring true. The real horror of ...more
David Gross
Jul 21, 2007 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ethics, fiction
It’s got a lot going for it. You know early on that it is going to be making brutal office politics a microcosm reflecting elements of large-scale genocidal outrages. The office in question being a center for genocide studies allows for parallels to be drawn pretty explicitly.

This could get heavy-handed, but Christian Jungersen does a pretty good job keeping it interesting and poignant without drumming it in too harshly.

And the office politics bullying is done with a keen eye. I got the same sor
Celeste Magnificent
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Nov 12, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A Danish novel about the vicious and dangerous office politics of a genocide information center in Copenhagen. The book starts off in bland, reportage mode, which, along with use of the present tense, put me off at first. Eventually, though, this style became extremely effective and riveting, actually, as the office relationships break down in awkward and tense confrontations. The idea is that an office is simply a microcosm of the kinds of psychological and social pressures that can influence a ...more
Tami Spence
It was really hard to get into this book because I found the writing to be very uninteresting (which could partly be the translation). But the more I read, the more intrigued I became by the psychology of it. It picked up speed very gradually until suddenly I realized I was completely absorbed by it. The questions it brings up are fascinating and make it worth sticking with the more mundane sections.
Jul 18, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
this is an amazing book and really digs deep into the relationships of women that work together -- both the good and the bad. I would say that it gets about 70 percent of the dynamic right, and then 20 percent is off is due to the need to dramatize the situation to make a good book, and then 10 percent compeltly misses the way women interact.
Aug 10, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An unusual story with the elemets of a triller, intresting for people working in libraries, research or academia. Where is evil in our lives, who is evil, on how we see ourselves, there is a lot of thought-provoking material.
Ken Fredette
Nov 28, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Talk about twists, this book continually had them. You wondered about them and then something would change your opinion. This was a well thought out mystery. I'd talk about it but would give it away. Let's just say that the last 100 pages were fabulous, I couldn't put the book down. ...more
Jan 01, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Incredibly intriguing. Loved that the setting really reflected on the author's style. Reminded me of Smilla's Sense of Snow. ...more
Rachelle Urist
Dec 17, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Here (#1) the review written for the Washtenaw Jewish News. Below it (#2) you'll find what I initially wrote, for Goodreads, upon finishing the book.

I started this book for my own reading pleasure. It won the Danish version of the Booker Prize, and it was recommended by a Dutch friend. I expected it to be a thriller with no connection to any Jewish experience. I quickly discovered that this novel is a fine candidate for WJN’s “Best Reads.” Jungerson spins a fine tale of four high minded and
Nov 03, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I am ambivalent when it comes to this book. It is 500 pages long, and for the first 250 pages, I was more or less bored. And then it picked up, and upon completing it, I felt like all the action was condensed in the last 75 pages of the book. Coming out of it at the other end, I felt like someone just whacked my head giving me a headache, and I am still whirling around, not knowing what exactly happened, while I see stars.

See, this is the store of four women who work in a non-profit, a genocide
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Christian Jungersen is a Danish author now resident in Dublin, Ireland, and New York City. He is the author of three prize-winning and bestselling novels.

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“We let rip with idealism and grand words, but it's nothing but rationalizations of our own egoistic behavior. Not only do we lie to others; we also lie to ourselves. Each one of us lives inside a house of mirrors -- our own instinctive self-righteousness distorts the way we view reality so that we can justify our actions to ourselves. And there's no way we can escape.” 3 likes
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