Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Samedi the Deafness” as Want to Read:
Samedi the Deafness
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Samedi the Deafness

3.74  ·  Rating details ·  1,180 Ratings  ·  173 Reviews
One morning in the park James Sim discovers a man, crumpled on the ground, stabbed in the chest. In the man's last breath, he whispers his confession: Samedi.

What follows is a spellbinding game of cat and mouse as James is abducted, brought to an asylum, and seduced by a woman in yellow. Who is lying? What is Samedi? And what will happen on the seventh day?

From the Trade
ebook, 304 pages
Published July 15th 2008 by Vintage (first published September 4th 2007)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Samedi the Deafness, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Samedi the Deafness

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Dec 15, 2007 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I feel like Elaine in that episode of Seinfeld, where she's the only person in New York who doesn't like "The English Patient."

Jesse Ball is very nice and very smart. I am moderately nice and mildly smart. I didn't like this book. But I don't blame him, I blame me.
Jan 06, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
What I said outloud to myself when I finished this, after rereading the last page a few times, was "f--king stupid." Yet, I admire a lot about this book: it seemed like it was initially composed as a screenplay, but then transformed into a VERY SPARE whodunnit, apparently heavily influenced by Ben Marcus more than any of the canonical surnames mentioned all over its covers. At times, yes, it reminded me of Kafka (Grieve instead of Lena, the egg room instead of the whipping room, etc) and Lewis C ...more
Nov 04, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone riding the 'L'
Amanda lent me her copy before she left for China. It was difficult to put down after getting through the first 10 pages. Occasionally I would laugh out loud to myself while reading it, which I rarely do these days (maybe with Pynchon). I found myself reading it on the subway mostly, even when drunk (which almost made me miss my stop - something I've never done before).

I love the way he presents characters and their speech patterns and trains of thought, and the ideas presented about truth and f
Will Kaufman
Oct 22, 2007 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
I started off really liking this book, and it had its moments the whole way through. In the end though there were too many moments when I either just wanted the book to get on with it, or felt like uninteresting diversions were distracting the story. This book didn't really live up to its potential. Ball's poeticism is undeniable, but the book gets bogged down in poeticizing certain seemingly minor plot elements.
For anyone who's read the book: I didn't give a damn about all the minutiae of the m
Apr 19, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
De hoofdpersoon, James Sim, ia een 'mnenomist', iemand die - in dit geval na langdurige training - over een fotografisch geheugen beschikt. Het is niet alleen een eigenschap van James, maar ook zijn werk. Maar hoe, waarom en voor wie hij dit werk doet blijft 'duister'. Het betaalt in ieder geval goed.

Op een dag, tijdens een wandeling, is James net niet getuige van een moord. De daders heeft hij nl. niet gezien, maar hij is wel net op tijd bij het slachtoffer om van hem nog het e.e.a. te horen o
Patrick Brennan
Aug 25, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: People that like to think hard
So this is one of the best books I have read in a long while. Jesse Ball is firstly a poet, and his writing style is amazing and easy to read, and he is also a great plotter, and this story has an amazing fast-paced plot that keeps you on edge for most of it.

The story centers around James Sim, a mnemonist that seems to moonlight as a detective, who stumbles upon a dead man that says he knows what Samedi is doing, and that his friends are planning something horrible. A string of suicides on the l
Apr 07, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Okay. Am totally biased. I had such a crush on Jesse Ball when he was at Columbia studying for his MFA. It was a shocker to pass by a bookshelf and see him on it. Now I'm ready for a binge. I remember he was into Kafka, Rilke, Borges--all of whose influence you can see in this fast-paced, quirky, detective novel. For me it's his phrasing of things, as well as the off-kilter images--i.e. man receiving a mask of his own face, girl sewing herself into a sack so she can sleep next to a guy, etc.--th ...more
Barbara Bagatin
Scrittura premiata, grazie all' "invenzione" di personaggi fantamoderni da romanzo rosa. Trama del tutto inesistente, vuota come una pubblicità di detersivi per la casa con uomo catatonico e donna passiva. Impossibile riuscire a seguire la vicenda: in pochissime pagine, di cui molte scritte solo a metà ( i nuovi metodi di scrittura di chi non ha idee) riesce a rendere la narrazione una matassa talmente ingarbugliata che neanche se uno riuscisse a leggere "Guerra e pace" all' incontrario potrebbe ...more
Feb 07, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
As a child, I learned to conceal my love of fantasy. Reading it was apparently a geeky pastime, and other kids didn’t seem to share my enthusiasm for talking animals and magical forests. These days, it’s a very different story, with pop culture tropes like cute robots and unicorns, artists like Bjork making living in an elfin world a reality, and a slew of mainstream movie adaptations following in the vastly successful footsteps of Lord of the Rings. Having cast off my mantle of fantasy shame, I ...more
Sean Carman

In the end it was like Jesse Ball had a great idea that didn't quite pan out.

"Samedi" starts with a kick. James Sim, who thinks and speaks cautiously, and in formal sentences, discovers, on his Sunday morning walk, a man dying in the park. He's been stabbed in the chest, and in his dying words utters a string of clues about a sinister-sounding conspiracy led by "Samedi." He tells James to start with a man called "Estrainger," who lives in "The Chinese district" and poses as a playwright. The nex
Lee Glanville
Nov 25, 2014 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I really loved this book. A momentous story filled with poetry and paranoia.

Actually I didn't. That was a lie. I haven't even read the book. Here follows a review of The Red Men by Matthew De Abaitua instead.

That was another lie. I have read it right through to the end and I didn't like the book at all. But how do you know even if that is true?

You don't. And so it follows in Jesse Ball's frustrating novel Samedi, the Deafness.

The problem with basing a novel around lying is that eventually you ha
Oct 27, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm very glad this was a good book. I very much wanted it to be. Kind of Murakami-esque, which is to say, post-modern semi-noir combined with a few strange occurrences, talking animals and shifting identities. I also liked the jacket's comparisons to David Lynch and Kafka. I get it. Probably not enough violence to merit the Lynch, but certainly enough confusion. And the largely passive, seldom speaking, always observing narrator connects to Kafka. I've only just now finished the book, but I'm st ...more
May 29, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: any fans of Lewis Caroll, Children of Men, Fight Club, or apocalyptic literature
Somebody please read this and explain to me what the hell happened! It was very Alice in Wonderland crossed with Waiting for Godot or some other surreal, existential whatever. It begins with an average man (who's profession is as a mnemonist--rememberer) witnessing the assassination of a man who claims to be part of a global conspiracy. Things the dead man said begin coming true and soon the main character is abducted and taken away to the conspiracy headquarters, which doubles as a "verisylumn, ...more
Oct 31, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Such a bizarre book. I could not put it down. I wanted to know what was going to come out of the author's imagination next.... The plot was really secondary to the details of the strange little world that the main character was caught up in... It was a very quick read.
Nov 26, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
Breathtakingly good. I almost dismissed it as gimmicky (a most favorite way for me to immediately despise a book), but was pleased to be proven wrong.
Aug 29, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
Fastest I've read a book since Angels & Demons. Completely engrossing and thought-provoking. And weird too. Really weird.

The only flaw was maybe the ending.
Sep 01, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Toss Alice in Wonderland and Kafka into a blender, with a bit of Hitchcock, Bond, and Orwell thrown in. A witty and perceptive meditation on truth, lies, and perception.
Oct 31, 2007 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
It's good...but there were moments when i was, like, ok, cut it out...yes, I'm impressed by how completely disjointed and insane you can be. Or maybe that was me...
Aug 01, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fans of noir, spy novels, Remainder, and David Lynch
This comes out in September. Full disclosure, I edited it. But it's a great psychologcal spy novel.
Aug 07, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
E' veloce, scritto in modo buffo. C'e' qualche buco di consecutio temporis che non è necessariamente onirico, ma solo una idea dell'autore - e la capisce solo lui. Non è necessariamente un thriller come riportato nel risvolto di copertina, non proprio un capolavoro. Ma è interessante: in alcuni punti mi ha ricordato Lost, non so perchè... Forse perche' l'ha scritto un 30enne americano che si nutre di serial tv...?
Fawndolyn Valentine
The pacing of this book was far too slow for me to stay interested. The writing style and peculiar characters were easy to grasp. But so little happened for half a book, that I just couldn't keep going.
Ben Brackett
Sep 24, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I kept trying to give this book the benefit of the doubt in using a novel and unique approach to narrative, but its so goddamn stupid.
I read this within 2 and a half days on holiday. I got it in a library/cafe in Marrakech and had been donated by an American couple living nearby. I picked up the book, immediately drawn in by the blurb and had to buy it after reading the first few pages in the cafe.
I liked James Sim's initial apathy and objectivity at the beginning of the book, as it created the idea of the typical working man in today's society, acting as a pawn in the economy. However, the beauty of this is slightly lost in
Sam Glatt
Feb 24, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It's a slightly basic story that eventually leads into "mad scientist with a master plan," but the journey is both dizzying and exciting. A fun read and written in an interesting style with a profound lesson to teach and a head-scratcher of an ending.
Marc Kozak
Mar 10, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
You can tell you're reading a good mystery when you develop a new theory every other page as to what is actually going on. Jesse Ball's first novel (written when he was 29!) is a way-out-there trip, a surrealist noir mystery that had me flipping pages furiously.

Ball's prose is minimalist, with simple words -- the fact that they build into a beautiful web of confusion is really to his credit. Our main character finds a dying man in a park, and is thrust into a giant conspiracy (or is he?) with a
Ploni Almoni
Excellent. Weird and different. Nonetheless, his other works look less interesting.
Oct 03, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Every review of this book calls it part-something, part-something-else: Kafka/Ian Fleming, Kafka/Hitchcock, Carroll/Lynch, thriller/romance. It's true that this novel is many things at once in many ways, but merely describing it in comparative combinations can't be accurate. I would say it's unarguably an original voice. Very weird (and thus hard for me to articulate my feelings about what I like about it), but very good and worth your while. If you pick it up, give it a minute, once you get use ...more
Feb 01, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Debbie by: nyt book review?
ihe idea was that there were three types of people. the first were those who became immediately angry about what had just happenened, and who rthen thereafter lessened in their anger. any danger from such a person came in the moments after the first difficulty.
The second type seemed only sloghtly angry about what had happened. they might even say to you oh dont worry about it. its just fine. its fine. but as time passes they ecome more and more angry. an hour after the incident they are steaming
Feb 20, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
So this was sort of a mixed bag. "Sort of" is, in fact, a really good way to sum up this entire book, so I'm planning on doing that at the end of this review. Just you wait.

I really thoroughly enjoy Jesse Ball's voice as a writer - there's an old soul-ness to it, the sort used to tell a tale being spun by a fire, and to establish that voice and sneak in a thriller through it is really effective.

But the book's ideas are kind of all over the place, and the pacing of the story is an unfavourable pa
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Is Jesse Ball's writing unconventional? 3 63 Jul 12, 2011 08:39AM  
  • Scorch Atlas
  • Light Boxes
  • The Last Novel
  • Zone
  • The Sleepwalker
  • Ooga-Booga: Poems
  • Passages
  • Motorman
  • Aberration of Starlight
  • Jealousy & In the Labyrinth
  • Pseudo-City
  • The Collected Poems
  • Vacation
  • Notable American Women
  • Zeroville
  • Emotional Currency: A Woman's Guide to Building a Healthy Relationship with Money
  • Metrophilias
  • Full Metal Jacket Diary
Jesse Ball (1978-) Born in New York. The author of fourteen books, most recently, the novel How To Set a Fire and Why. His prizewinning works of absurdity have been published to acclaim in many parts of the world and translated into more than a dozen languages. The recipient of the Paris Review's Plimpton Prize, as well as fellowships from the NEA, the Heinz foundation, and others, he is on the fa ...more
More about Jesse Ball...

Share This Book

“Sunday was always the best of days for being the self you had intended to be, but were not, for one reason or another.” 6 likes
“You live your life, you try to live compassionately, and that's the end of it. You do a little more than you should have to in order to be a good person, but you don't go making big changes in the world, trying to fix things. It presumes too much to do so. There's only this: if everyone acts quietly, compassionately, things will go a little better than they would have otherwise. But people will still suffer.” 3 likes
More quotes…