5 April 2010

Jacques Chessex, A Jew Must Die, 2009

Chessex continued to look into the dark corners of Switzerland’s past right up to this, his last-but-one novel. It looks at the 1942 murder of Arthur Bloch, a well-to-do Jewish cattle dealer in Payerne by some Swiss Nazi sympathisers, meant as an offering to the Führer just a few days before Hitler’s birthday. It wasn’t just a random murder – how the teenage killers also disposed of the body was particularly gruesome. This short novel was not well received in Switzerland, possibly because the Nazi chant of ‘death to the Jews’ is frequently put across in the first person alongside some possibly gratuitous S&M imagery, plus Chessex has a cynical take on Swiss indifference. Payerne is also where Chessex grew up and the last chapter neatly but remotely connects him to the event as he explores the culpability of a particularly notorious pro-Nazi religious leader. I found this was just as good, and sad, and well-told a story as his other recent biographical novel The Vampire of Ropraz, and in short doses like this Chessex makes a memorable impression.  PY


1 comment:

NancyO said...

Thanks so much for your review of this book. I have it on my Amazon wishlist, along with the Vampire of Ropraz.