Today’s review takes a look at a book, the likes of which I have never encountered before, The Nine Lives of Jacob Fallada by Neil Randall. Many thanks to Neil, and to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources, for inviting me to take part in the tour, and for providing me with a copy of the book.
The whole world against him
The Nine Lives of Jacob Fallada is the story of an outsider, a lonely, misunderstood young artist who chronicles all the unpleasant things that happen to him in life. Abandoned by his parents, brought up be a tyrannical aunt, bullied at school, ostracized by the local community, nearly everyone Jacob comes into contact with takes an instant, (often) violent dislike towards him. Like Job from the bible, he is beaten and abused, manipulated and taken advantage of. Life, people, fate, circumstance force him deeper into his shell, deeper into the cocoon of his fledgling artistic work, where he records every significant event in sketches, paintings and short-form verse, documenting his own unique, eminently miserable human experience. At heart, he longs for companionship, intimacy, love, but is dealt so many blows he is too scared to reach out to anybody. On the fringes of society, he devotes himself solely to his art.
You can purchase your copy of this book here.
The Nine Lives of Jacob Fallada is a strange book, and sitting at my computer now I am finding it hard to put my thoughts about it into words. At first I just thought it was all very weird, the lack of emotion in the retelling of Jacob’s life, the way each chapter skipped forward so much in time with limited reference to what had gone before, not to mention the very peculiar social experiment that Jacob was subjected to.
As the events of each chapter unfolded, I found myself questioning the reliability of the narrator. After all, how could someone who claims to be so innocent so often find themselves in the wrong place at the wrong time? Could this account of Jacob’s life be trusted or was it his distorted view of how his life had gone so wrong? However, as I thought about it more, I came to see just how clever this book really was. If you just took a snapshot of all the bad things that had happened to you and erased all the good, what would your life story look like? Jacob must have had good times in his life, but by choosing not to show those, Neil Randall presents a very clear image of just how easy it is for someone to become isolated, slipping through the cracks of society, scared of showing any emotion to the outside world.
All in all, this is an extremely thought-provoking book that gave me a lot more than I bargained for.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Neil Randall is the author of seven published novels and a collection of short stories. His work has been published in the UK, US, Australia and Canada
Giveaway to Win 3 Copies of The Nine Lives of Jacob Fallada (UK Only)
*Terms and Conditions –UK entries welcome. Please enter using the Rafflecopter link below. The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then Rachel’s Random Resources reserves the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over. Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time Rachel’s Random Resources will delete the data. I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.
Make sure you pay a visit to the other blogs taking part in the tour for this book.