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The Insult

3.38  ·  Rating details ·  1,435 ratings  ·  67 reviews
It is a Thursday evening. After work Martin Blom drives to the supermarket to buy some groceries. As he walks back to his car a shot rings out... When he wakes up he is blind. His neurosurgeon, Bruno Visser, tells him that his loss of sight is permanent and that he must expect to experience shock, depression, self-pity, even suicidal thoughts before his rehabilitation is c ...more
Paperback, 416 pages
Published July 1st 2004 by Bloomsbury Publishing PLC (first published January 1st 1996)
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3.38  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,435 ratings  ·  67 reviews

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Absolute blindness is rare. There's usually some suggestion of movement, some sense of light and shade. Not in my case. What I 'saw' was depthless and impenetrable...There were no gradations in the blankness, no fluctuations of any kind. It was what depression would like, I thought, if you had to externalize it.

This was a spontaneous purchase for me - I knew nothing about the book or its author, but decided to give him a try because I was intrigued. I'm very glad that I did, as it turned out t
Ryan Chapman
Oct 09, 2007 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
I'd heard such good things about Rupert Thompson. I might try another book down the road, but this one was uniquely terrible, I couldn't even finish it. From the unoriginal, solipsistic narrator to the meandering pace and dearth of any suspense or momentum, I couldn't help but think of the author sitting down every day and arbitrarily picking something new for his protagonist to do. ("Today I'll have him order a pastry!" ... "Today he should meet yet another person who's unexplainably friendly t ...more
Oct 23, 2007 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction-2008
I've had this on my shelf for a while. I was disappointed by 'Divided Kingdom' and I hoped that this novel wouldn't further distance me from Thomson. The mixed reviews on Amazon and here didn't help either, but I took the plunge...

... and I'm very glad I did. Again Thomson creates a strange land that is both familiar and alien at the same time. You feel like you recognise the place, but somehow it seems more unfriendly than anywhere you've actually been.

Within these he sets two stories, one of a
Mar 29, 2009 rated it it was amazing
This book was VERY interesting...I read it before I started working in the eyecare field, and thought it was fascinating. Reading it AFTER I got into this field gave it a whole new depth. Loved it.
Rebecca Lewis
Sep 07, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Possibly my favourite book in the world.
Aug 18, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: m-o, ebook, fear, british
WHAT IF… by a whim of fate we lose vision? And what if, after having adjusted to a our new flawed life, we recover it again… but in an unexpected way? This is the core of the story that The Insult tells, and is as fascinating as it sounds.

I read this book through the recommendation of a friend –thanks again, Maciek - and one month after reading it Im still affected by the originality of the story and the delicacy of its prose. Some of my favorite passages:

"Loots was a man of many talents, and so
Sandy Virk
Sep 08, 2013 rated it really liked it
Well, I really did think the book was pretty different from the conventional books I usually read, so I'll give it that- it's extremely unique. I really liked how Thomson described the world from the man's perspective. Then going into the other perspective- Edith(?) was pretty unusual, the life of a female in a male-orientated house. Incest here. That was pretty odd. I really like how twisted and insane the whole thing was. Mazey's life was also odd to read as well- it was uncomfortable but in a ...more
Jun 08, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book was fascinating. It starts with a man being shot and losing his sight. Except... maybe he can see after all.... but only at night. The entire book is his adventure, investigating the disappearance of a beautiful woaman, or maybe she not really beautiful and his sight is just a delusion..... In the middle of the book, we suddenly change narrators and drop back in time fifty years and the reader is completely confused... until it all comes back together at the end, brilliantly. I cant wa ...more
Jan 24, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: crime-noir
A weird, strange, and a WTF oddly addictive compulsive read.
An abstract, beautifully compelling mystery thriller.

I really don't know what else to say about this without giving anything away but I was blown away by the powerful imagery constructed by this picasoesque author.

Stunning !
Dave Morris
May 22, 2017 rated it really liked it
Things I liked: the undefined place and time (is it America? Europe? now? the past? we're not sure) and the really strange effect of the central idea (no spoilers, but we "see" everything from the viewpoint of a blind narrator). I wasn't so keen on the sudden switch to a different narrator for most of the last third, but it worked okay. And it's nice to discover a top-notch author who is still alive and writing; I'll be looking for more of his books.
Aug 15, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: crime
This was a creeping, slow moving kind of mystery, that makes you think it's going to be about one thing, and then ends up being about another. I have read it in a couple of days - yes, I'm having a couple of days off work, which always helps with reading, but even so, it is a good, if rather grim read. It's a dark trip, much set during the night, and a tale of how intense love can send people down very wrong paths and make them do very bad things. You get to the end and it all feels a bit dark, ...more
Dead John Williams
Jun 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: reviewed, otherly
This is one of the strangest books I have read in a while. It starts off with the main character getting shot in the head at very close range and subsequently becoming blind. It is never explained who did the shooting or why. The story then really begins with his rehabilitation and the life he leads as a blind man. He is medically, certifiably blind but he can see at night, or can he? It just gets weirder and weirder the further you go down the rabbit hole with him.

Totally engrossing, fully real
The Subway Reader
May 16, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
One of the weirdest books I have ever read... surreal and at the same time very realistic, definitely original, unpredictable, disturbing, fascinating, unpredictable, sleazy, paranoid, ... Man gets shot in the parking lot (page 1), becomes blind but soon discovers that he can see in the dark, then his odyssey starts... very good! but probably not for everybody...
Jan 11, 2010 rated it really liked it
I stumbled across this little psychological thriller at a thrift store. Something moved me to pick it up, and I'm glad I did; although it seems to take a kind of drastic curve toward the last third of the book, I urge you to stick with it. It's fascinating.

The narrator is a man who has been blinded by a stray bullet lodging in his brain, damaging his occipital cortex. Because of this, his eyes still perceive light, but his brain is no longer able to form an image of the outside world. However,
Feb 14, 2009 rated it it was amazing
The only good book I've read recently. Damn good it is too.
Dec 10, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, modern
you know when you find a book you'll never forget? that feeling in your brain and stomach? here it is
Dec 31, 2012 rated it liked it
I bought this book due to a recommendation in a book store, and what I personally found to be a very enticing, and intriguing synopsis. I found it enjoyable, but a little frustrating. I can totally understand why there are so many conflicting views on this book. Part one is so well written it continues to make you turn the pages, even with what appears to be a lack of substantial storyline. Once the narration changes in part two this is where at times, you have to have a little patience to persi ...more
Rupert Thomson is an extremely talented writer whose subject matter has a tendency to lean toward the subculture/sexual deviancy side of things. If I'm to judge him by "The Insult", which is only the second book of his I've read so far, he also likes to play around with shifting points-of-view, something that pays off in the end (in this case), but I still find it jarring and it almost lead to my not finishing the novel.
Read for 2018 Popsugar Reading Challenge: A book from a celebrity book club. Apparently this novel is among David Bowie's 100 favourite novels, so I guess it counts (tbh, couldn't find another category to fit this in lol).

I don't even know where to start... perhaps with saying that this is one of the strangest novels I've ever read. There's no exact time or place reference, but I'd place it somewhere in Eastern Europe, maybe in the 80s-90s?

Anyway, the book starts with the accident of Martin Blo
Jan 19, 2013 rated it liked it
Wonderfully skilled writer, drawing on sources from parts of Central Europe close to my heart, but the book was fantastically overlong. If there ever was an example of a short story or novella drawn out to chunky paperback scale, this is it. Not sure why, the central idea is wonderful, the characters fresh, the plot development keen. But you find yourself skipping lines, paragraphs, pages, and then feeling disappointed when the gaps fill themselves without any need of the writer's pen.

Andrew Baranowski
Apr 20, 2014 rated it it was ok
Amateurish, naive, unconvincing, disjointed, dull first half of the book. The writing just filled me with anger and disappointment (eg a retired knife thrower carries around a set of knives with him, yeh right, just like a chef always has a spatula in their top pocket). The second half was thrilling in content and style and earned it another star rating but it felt like two different books with much of half one just existing to be utterly ridiculous and devoid of meaning.
Roz Morris
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
John Wiltshire
Jun 19, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: given-up-on
Even if I could give zero stars, I'd allow this a one because despite having now given up on it, I did find it very readable to start with. There were some genuinely novel descriptions of things which marked this as excellent writing. But, oh dear, the plot! Is there any? There are no signposts as to where this story is going and my attention span is way too short these days to continue on this journey. He's blind. He appears to be able to see in the dark, however. So... ?
Mar 30, 2015 rated it it was ok
The premise is intriguing :

Martin Blom is shot in the head in an act of random violence and consequently goes blind. His doctor insists that he is in denial and suffering from Anton’s Syndrome whereas Blom sees (?!?) perfectly well at night. He doesn’t feel suicidal, not even depressed, in fact he is brimming with optimism and can’t wait to start life afresh from the moment of his attack.
He breaks off his relationship with his fiancée, cuts off all communication with his parents and friends and
Kris Kros
Strange, Weird, Captivating. These would be the words that would come into my mind if I was asked to describe this book. This is my first Rupert Thomson and I'm thoroughly impressed with his writing and the way he navigated around a very unusual plot. The first part was the most innovative in terms of the plot, although the second wasn't much predictable either. Innovative though it was, reading this book was a bit tiring. But maybe that's the sacrifice you have to make for writing such an unusu ...more
Val Wilkerson
Jul 21, 2009 rated it liked it
Wow, talk about a different book. This is the second book of Rupert Thomson I have read, I have the first book 5 stars because I just loved it. I enjoyed this book, he really has a style of his own which is very refreshing to find, however this book was just not the type of book I enjoy, therefore the 3 far as being well written he gets all 5 stars again.
Apr 01, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Spoiler Alert*** One is left feeling they know what has happened, yet, there's always the possibility that "they" (doctor, Nina, parents) are wrong.

If you want a roller coaster for the mind? This is your book.
Jennie Prior
Apr 06, 2012 rated it did not like it
Yeah, Quite the insult once i'd gotten to the end. Poor read.
May 19, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The first part is great!...And that is all I have to say...
Andy H
Apr 03, 2013 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Gripping beginning but the so slow pace left me not caring. I found myself skipping lines - & when that happens I'd rather read something else.
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“You have to do normal things or they don't go away. You have to reassure them. Or they just stand there staring at you, as if you're a car-crash, or pornography.” 12 likes
“Did I tell you about Anton?" Loots said.

Anton?" I shook my head.

It was a week ago, Loots said. There had been a knock on the door of his apartment and when he opened it his old friend Anton was standing there. Anton was a clown. He belonged to a circus that toured the provinces, playing to small towns and villages. They talked about the old days for a while, but Anton became increasingly restless and distracted. In the end Loots had to ask him if there was something wrong.

This is going to sound strange." The clown coughed nervously into his fist. "It's The Invisible Man. He's disappeared."

Loots stared at his friend.

He just vanished," Anton said, "into thin air."

The Invisible Man?" Loots said.


He's disappeared?"

I told you it would sound strange," Anton said.”
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