Nominated by:

Stadtbibliothek Bremen, Germany

Publisher of nominated edition:

Nan A. Talese / Doubleday, USA

Published in the UK by Harvill Secker

Decompression

Juli Zeh    

Translated from the German by John Cullen

2016 Longlist

In this riveting tale we meet two couples caught in a web of conflicting passions, Diving instructor Sven Fiedler and his girlfriend, Antje, who live and work on the Spanish island of Lanzarote. When a tourist couple—Jola, a soap opera actress, and Theo, a stalled novelist—arrive for an intensive two-week diving experience, Sven is captivated by Jola’s beauty and evident wealth.

Theo suspects that Sven and Jola have begun an affair, but oddly, he seems to encourage them. Antje looks on, increasingly wary of these new clients. Cycling through different points of view, we are constantly kept guessing about who knows what—and who is telling the truth. A brutal game of temptation and manipulation unfolds, pointing toward a violent end—but a quiet one, underwater, beneath the waves.

(from publisher)

About the Author

Juli Zeh’s novels include Eagles and Angels, winner of numerous prizes including the German Book Prize; Gaming Instinct; In Free Fall; and The Method. She has worked at the United Nations in New York, taught at the German Institute for Literature in Leipzig, and currently lives in Brandenburg. In 2013 she was awarded the Thomas Mann Prize.

Librarian’s Comments

Sven left a life as a lawyer in Germany to spend his time on an island as a diving instructor. His simple existence is shaken up by Jola and Theo, a couple who have requested his services for a few weeks. Jola is an actress hoping to get a role in a diving movie. Theo is an ambitious but mostly unsuccessful writer. They fight bitterly and after a short time Sven is involved in their murderous games. The reader loses all certainties because the story is told from different perspectives. Juli Zeh’s novel is a masterfully constructed psychological thriller in the tradition of Patricia Highsmith.

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