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4.15  ·  Rating details ·  4,989 ratings  ·  600 reviews
Set in an unnamed time and place, Brodeck blends the familiar and unfamiliar, myth and history into a work of extraordinary power and resonance. Readers of J. M. Coetzee's Disgrace, Bernhard Schlink's The Reader and Kafka will be captivated by Brodeck.

Forced into a brutal concentration camp during a great war, Brodeck returns to his village at the war’s end and takes up hi
Hardcover, 336 pages
Published June 23rd 2009 by Nan A. Talese (first published August 22nd 2007)
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Average rating 4.15  · 
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 ·  4,989 ratings  ·  600 reviews

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Near the end of this book, Brodeck, the narrator, mentions a fable he remembers hearing as a child, a strange little story about a poor tailor who makes three suits for the king only to be rewarded by having, first his mother, then his wife, then his daughter, taken from him as if by magic. Brodeck says that the story used to make him feel as if the ground had been pulled from under him, as if there was nothing left to hold on to, nothing he could trust.

When I read about Brodeck's reaction, I h
Vit Babenco
Dec 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Brodeck is a very gloomy and bleak parable of conformity… Conformity is dangerous… “The truth is that the crowd itself is a monster.” Conformity can become deadly…
Sometimes, when I looked at him, the figure of a saint crossed my mind. Saintliness is very odd. When people encounter it, they often take it for something else, something completely unlike it: indifference, mockery, scheming, coldness, insolence, perhaps even contempt. But they’re mistaken, and that makes them furious. They commit an
Jul 09, 2010 rated it it was amazing
There are many reasons we read: for enlightenment, escape, education, and in some rare instances, to confront ourselves with truths and insights we never would have encountered otherwise.

Brodeck is one of those rare instances. It is, quite simply, one of the best contemporary books I have ever read. And I have read a lot.

The book – which reads like an allegory or dark adult fairy tale – transcends those genres by strongly tethering itself to recognizable events and images. Brodeck, by many indic
At the end of the Second World War, a foreigner had murdered in a village. Brodeck writes nature notes for his administration. Asked by the villagers, he agrees to write a report on the facts that led to this tragedy. Meticulous, orderly, in search of truth, he embarks on this writing after having obtained the agreement of these fellow citizens to appear the truth even if this one disturbs. The grey souls have become very black; Claudel builds his novel as a puzzle, from one character to another ...more
Apr 04, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: french, top-10-2018
It's an unnamed village in an unnamed country. The people there speak a kind of German, but they are not German. There is an unnamed war. Troops from the aggressor nation come to the village. The people do not resist. There is a Cleansing. SCHMUTZ FREMDËR. Brodeck is one of the "dirty foreigners" delivered.

But that was then. Brodeck survives the camp and returns to the village, though a kind of oracle advises him not to.

Then the Anderer comes to the village. The other. He too refuses to be name
Read this as part of 2018 Ultimate Reading Challenge, Category: "A book translated from another language".

4.5 stars

This book was originally written in French and I read the English Translation of it.

This is one of those books that has a soul to it. It's not just words written on paper but every single thing here is soo much deeper.
The beauty of the story it, it does not specify the time-line it takes place in but certain references made me think of WW2.... But the scary thing is, it can be some
Roger Brunyate
The Stranger

Imagine a region on the border between two powers, its nominal sovereignty shuffled between them with the ebb and flow of history. Imagine a place whose personal and place names belong to one country, but whose official language is that of the other, and whose local dialect is a hybrid known only to its inhabitants. Imagine a land of mountains and forests, where individual villages are isolated "like eggs in nests," and where even somebody arriving from three hours' walk away will s
Description: Forced into a brutal concentration camp during a great war, Brodeck returns to his village at the war’s end and takes up his old job of writing reports for a governmental bureau. One day a stranger comes to live in the village. His odd manner and habits arouse suspicions: His speech is formal, he takes long, solitary walks, and although he is unfailingly friendly and polite, he reveals nothing about himself. When the stranger produces drawings of the village and its inhabitants that ...more
Jul 18, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Ich bin nichts. I am nothing.

Moi je n’ai rien fait.... Me, I have done nothing....

A line in German; another in French. What do we report when we are in the middle? When our lives are suppressed; turned upside down. Something bad happens; the same bad thing that happened to ourselves. We want to tell what happened and at the same time, stress that we did nothing. We are innocent and at the same time, we want to be more than nothing. To be someone. Are we complicit?

The past.

Are you with us or aga
Proustitute (on hiatus)
I am Brodeck, and I had nothing to do with it.
So begins Philippe Claudel's brilliant novel about xenophobia, narrated by the eponymous Brodeck. Of an ambiguous national identity, living in an unspecified country just on the heels of World War II, Brodeck is the outsider par excellence: a man who has spent time in the concentration camps to return home to the same villagers to find their attitudes toward him altered, his position always uncertain and unclear. This is also underscored by his c
Mar 26, 2011 rated it it was ok
Shelves: translated, fiction
Given the profusion of five star reviews, it seems I'm one of the very few people who have not fallen under the spell of Claudel's 'Brodeck'. Indeed, it seems to me Claudel set himself a hugely ambitious task in which he more or less failed.

One element of that ambition is to want to write a book on the Holocaust which is, I think, always a very tricky proposition. Because how to speak of it without becoming crude or corny? How to cast a fresh light on this darkest of episodes? A tremendous amoun
Formally, this book is a report, which is also the title of the novel, and it is also the task that the main character Brodeck receives from his fellow villagers: make a report of what has happened here, so that we have a chance at forgiveness. Also the opening words of the book, "my name is Brodeck and I have nothing to do with it. I have not done anything", suggest that something bad has happened. And soon we know that it is a murder, a murder committed by several perpetrators, on an exotic lo ...more
Aug 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Rating: 5 stars

Plot: 4,5
Characters: 5
Writing style: 5

"Brodeck" by Philippe Claudel is definitely one of my favourite reads this year!
The story is set in a never specified time or place, but certain references makes you think about World War II and the Holocaust. The main character Brodeck, a man who has recently returned from a place that seems very much like a concentration camp, is ordered to write a report about an incident that led to the strangers death. The writing process broughts up memo
Paul Fulcher
Aug 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2018, ib-iffp-winners
As for me, I chose to live, and my punishment is my life. That is the way I see things. My punishment is all the suffering I have endured since. It is Brodeck-the-Dog. It is Emélia’s silence, which sometimes I interpret as the greatest reproach of all. It is my constantly recurring nightmares. And more than anything else, it is this perpetual feeling of inhabiting a body I stole long ago thanks to a few drops of water.

Brodeck's Report translated from Philippe Claudel's French original by John
Jul 20, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
“Why did I, like thousands of others, have to carry a cross I hadn't chosen, a cross which was not made for my shoulders and which didn't concern me? Who decided to come rummaging around in my obscure existence, invade my gray anonymity, my meager tranquility, and bowl me like a little ball in a great game of skittles? God? Well, in that case, if He exists, if He really exists, let Him hide His face. Let Him put His two hands on His head, and let Him bow down. It may be, as Peiper used to teach ...more
Mirnes Alispahić
Sep 11, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Since the dawn of time, people have hated each other for simple reasons; because they’re not from the same place, their skin is of different color or they call the peaceful god to whom they worship by another name. Hatred can often be dormant, like Ishiguro's buried giant, right up until the moment the engines of war start to roll and people show another face. Philippe Claudel in his "Brodeck" deals with this very topic, the consequences of insane hatred, but also empathy and forgiveness.
Jun 04, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Fiction about the Holocaust is problematic, but this novel proves that there is room for it, if it's done right. This is no pointless tear-jerker, sentimentalist bestseller like the ones we've recently seen (The Nightingale, All the Light we Cannot See, etc.). It is a highly sophisticated piece of writing that aims to give you the full scope of the horror. The evil lurking behind everyday living, apparent normality and what looks like normative human beings. As in the Picture of Dorian Grey, her ...more
Oct 06, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: holocaust
The power of this book--and it is very powerful--lies in the use of unexpected words to describe a time, and events, that are terribly familiar to us. World War II, Germany, Eastern Europe, the Holocaust--they are recent history, and every schoolchild knows what happened in that place, in that time.

You will not find any of these names in this beautifully written poem of a book. The magic lies in the way Mr. Claudel finds new language to describe who and what he is talking about. Every time a fi
Dec 16, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Quietly devastatingly brilliant. Claudel takes one village which happens to be near the border - for what is a border but an imagined, even a painted line on paper - of an occupying nation, and uses the village and its resident to portray humanity and its many inclinations, when a stranger rides into town, makes himself comfortable and goes about his business, without letting anyone know what that business was.

Brodeck is tasked with writing an account of events that take place and as he does so,
Sep 11, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016
In this Grimm-like parable, set in an unnamed mountain village near a border, Brodeck, a low-level bureaucrat whose job it is to catalog the flora and fauna of the region, is assigned by the mayor to write a report whitewashing the brutal murder of a mysterious stranger known as the Anderer (the other) who appeared in the village after a great war.

The village had been occupied by enemy troops during the war and Brodeck himself was thought dead after suffering starvation and degradation in a camp
Friederike Knabe
Feb 16, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: french-lit
Much inPhilippe Claudel's novel is literally not quite accurate, but fundamentally very true. Brodeck, the first person narrator and a man who "has the language", has been tasked by the village men to write a "Report" on an Incident (referred to consistently as "l'Ereignies" in the original French text) that occurred just prior to Brodeck's arrival at the village inn. Something violent has happened to the "Anderer" (meaning "Other"), a recently arrived visitor to the village. The Report is to ex ...more
David Hebblethwaite
One night, in a remote village somewhere in post-war Europe (Claudel is deliberately vague about place and time in the novel), there is a murder. The victim is known only as ‘the Anderer‘ (‘the Other’), a colourful stranger who arrived in the village from who-knows-where, and immediately drew fascination (gradually turning to suspicion) with his unusual dress and manner.

The Anderer has been killed by men of the village, who ask Brodeck — a villager who didn’t witness those events, but has attend
Tina Tamman
Oct 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Where do I even begin? This is such an ambitious novel, and it works! There are so many metaphors, so many extraordinarily beautiful sentences, and not one jars! And yet, it is deliberately vague as to place and time - it is universal, about the difficulties remaining human in dire circumstances, even in a war, any war.
Claudel's "Grey Souls" published in French in 2003, which I also liked and admired, was perhaps a prelude to Brodeck, published seven years later. Even his "Monsieur Linh and His
Aug 11, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: prose, 5-star, fiction, french
Lynne Perednia
Mar 02, 2010 rated it it was amazing

A small Alpine community appears to have recovered from a great war in which young men from the village died. Most did not return. But one did. Brodeck survived a prison camp by degrading himself, crawling on all fours with a dog collar on to amuse the guards. He writes reports now, chronicling the changing of the seasons and noting the passage of time.

Time passes very slowly for the village, as well as for Brodeck, his wife, daughter and the woman who raised him as her own child. It's not quite
Jul 01, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
I work at an institution that collects books and archival material related to the Holocaust and genocide, so I often find myself avoiding anything to do with those topics in my personal, non-work hours. It is enough to be surrounded by them during the day. However, this book came highly recommended and so I gave it a chance. I am so glad I did. Claudel deals with a very tricky moral topic--and depicts some truly horrific scenes of human suffering--but he does so with such poetry, such grace and ...more
Jun 08, 2022 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2022, school
Brodeck's report is about Brodeck, who has been given the task to write a report about the death of a foreign visitor. During the writing of this report, he starts writing another report, a private report that he keeps to himself to write in, which is what the reader reads.
The book is a very cynical story, containing the life story of Brodeck who has a fascinating view on humanity, as he has been subjected to the worst horrors in human history.
I personally found it a very slow book, containing u
Feb 10, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Dark book, although terrible things are not really described... The question really rising is "Should survival be the final goal of the human being?" Horrible things have been done just to survive, out of fear of death...and still the answer might be "yes"... After all, just being alive could redeem yourself...
The final road Brodeck took is like exit the purgatory...and maybe saving one soul worth all atrocity taking place in that village...
The sad thing is even if the action is placed in well-d
Oct 09, 2010 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: idlewild
I'm not gonna pretend to like this more than I did so that I'll appear oh-so literary.

I generally try to focus on the beauty of the world and all the people in it, so I don't want to spend my time reading about how ugly and cruel it can be. I didn't find that this book said anything that any other war/Holocaust book hasn't already.

Not my cup of tea.
TBV (on hiatus)
Jul 02, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, 2019
At times I found it hard to read Philippe Claudel's Grey Souls, but this novel of his has left me emotionally drained; I am completely wrung out. ...more
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Philippe Claudel is a French writer and film director.
His most famous work to date is the novel " Les Âmes Grises " - " Grey Souls ", which won the prix Renaudot award in France, was shortlisted for the American Gumshoe Award, and won Sweden's Martin Beck Award. In addition to his writing, Philippe Claudel is a Professor of Literature at the University of Nancy.

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