s
Press & Reviews
  • Reviews for The Snowman by Jörg Fauser
  • Jörg Fauser |  Review |  The Snowman
Reviews for The Snowman by Jörg Fauser

'Fauser has a wryly observant eye for life on the margins (note the jukebox cockroaches copulating to the tune of 'Don't Go Breaking My Heart'). His stripped-down prose and honest observation hints at the later Camus, his characters bring both Ambler and Greene to mind. The best of Bitter Lemon's roster so far. Don't miss.'

- Tangled Web

'It's a series of razor-sharp snapshots, tinged with black humour, of people living on the edge or the transients who pass Blum by. Fauser's observations feel so real that you just know they were based on the real people he saw and spent time with... Chances are THE SNOWMAN will be unlike anything you've ever read...If you like spare, sharp, off-the-wall crime fiction, this is one to go for without a doubt.'

- Reviewingtheevidence.com

'A farcical misadventure played out in the seedy hotel rooms, brothels and gloomy bars of European cities. With a cast of shady characters, many of them drug-addled, and no telling who might be working under-cover, this is a gritty and slyly funny story.'

- Cath Staincliffe

'Fauser, who was a heroin addict in his early years, shows his insight into the milieu in which Blum moves and there are moments of sardonic humour as he plumbs the depths of human desperation and degradation.

- The Sunday Telegraph

'The source of this book's considerable charm is the good, well actually pretty bad, Herr Blum, and upon his capacity to court disaster. All of which gives a dark tale of paranoia and life in the underworld a comic edge; just enough oblique humour to cause a reader to smile at this rag-tag life of ours and its underworld vicissitudes.'

- Goethe Institut
'Jörg Fauser's The Snowman can hardly be said to be crime fiction, although there is crime, or even a thriller, although there are occasional subdued thrills. This book, originally published in Germany in 1981, appears to be some sort of pseudo-autobiographical tale about a bum who finds he can't sell his Danish porn in Malta, exchanges it for high-grade cocaine which he hopes to offload to make enough money to be comfortable for the rest of his miserable life, and ends up rushing about Holland and Belgium and various parts of Germany, falling out of one mess into another. Blum, the bum, is variously paranoid and strangely trusting; adding colour to this strange little book are a Pakistani (agent? smuggler? businessman) Mr Haq and an American (agent? smuggler? businessman?) Hackensack. The author evidently led a dissolute life comparable to Blum's: after kicking off a heroin habit, he spent the rest of his tired life mired in alcohol. But, chemically-fueled, his brain evidently was a superb recording medium for acute description, and the book abounds in neatly executed portraits of the low-life and the marginal that one finds dotting pretty much all of Europe.' - Justamon

'THE SNOWMAN is an excellent, wild, crime thriller starring an unlikable, hardboiled, anti-heroic con artist who lands in one increasingly more difficult scenario after another. The police procedural storyline is told mostly from the perspective of the pursued making for an intriguing upside down twist to the sub-genre. Fans will appreciate this terrific, action-packed look at those beneath the German societal food chain by a talented, deceased author who apparently observed much of his cast firsthand as THE SNOWMAN feels in some ways autobiographic fiction.'

- Harriet Klausner

'Jörg Fauser was a fascinating train wreck: a fiercely intelligent literary critic who also wrote the occasional nudie-magazine filler; a junkie who got clean in his thirties only to become an alcoholic; a tragic figure who died mysteriously at 43 in a 1987 Autobahn accident. Oh, and along the way he managed to crank out one of the most indelible crime novels in German history. First published in 1981, The Snowman is a classic loser's tale in which Blum, a low-rent black market fence, unexpectedly finds himself with $600,000 worth of high grade cocaine and no idea how to sell it. Fauser chronicles his increasingly desperate attempts with a gimlet eye and a black, acerbic (so, German) wit, creating an unflinchingly brilliant tale of a perspective--the outsider among outsiders--he knew all too well.'

- Ruminator

'Blum's out-of-date porn mags ("classics, my dear fellow. Denmark 1968...) are not selling well. A dip into his 'emergency' funds may well be necessary. The Maltese police suggest he tries Italy. Instead, on his way with the magazines to meet Rossi, a new Italian client, he is waylaid and they are stolen. Rossi disappears, his hotel room devastated, but Blum finds a left luggage ticket, valid at the Central Station, Munich, concealed inside a wig left by Rossi in his room. Decamping immediately to Munich, Blum is at first disappointed to reclaim a carton of unusually heavy Old Spice shaving foam. But the cans prove to contain pure Peruvian cocaine. Dreaming of the modest business that might support him in his old age, he sets out with the coke to sell it...

Thus begins a bitterly funny odyssey through the European coke-using classes of the early 1980s: rock stars, punks, balding hippies or those with contacts amongst the captains of industry, admen and politicians ('cocaine is a status symbol').Transactions take place in (West) Germany, Holland and Belgium, at parties, in clip-joints and toilets; contacts are made at restaurants with 'artistic performances'.

It's a wonderfully down-at-heel picture of Europe at a particular point in time ("in ten years snorting coke will probably become big business, but for now we're still an exclusive circle", says one customer), curiously short of ready cash a source of continual frustration for Blum and with several other parallels with the modern state (asylum seekers, street crime). Through it all trudges the strangely admirable protagonist, one of life's survivors ("Do you write?, asks one party hostess. "Only figures," replies Blum), clinging grimly to his grimy independence, convinced that he is being tailed, pinning his hopes on the 'shop-soiled and run-down' Cora and basing his future on a well-thumbed 1978 guide to business opportunities in the Bahamas.
Fauser (for many years himself an addict) has a wryly observant eye for life on the margins (note the jukebox cockroaches copulating to the tune of 'Don't Go Breaking My Heart'), for the smart bars and their customers living their lives in empty desperation. His stripped-down prose and honest observation hints at the later Camus, his characters bring both Ambler and Greene to mind.

This novel, Fauser's first, was published in Germany in 1981. Six years later, after two more books, he was dead, mown down by a heavy goods vehicle on a motorway. Clearly a great loss. The best of Bitter Lemon's roster so far. Don't miss
'

- Tangled Web

'Written in acerbic humour, this novel is a hard boiled evocation of a drug fuelled existence and a penetrating observation of those at the edge of society. A hypnotic game played against both the law and the drug mafia, in a world of seedy hotel bedrooms, big city bars and dingy brothels.'

- Macavity's Crime fiction

'The novel casts an almost hypnotic spell on the reader's senses, drawn by the tension of the dangerous game being played against both the law and the drug mafia, the world of hotel lounges and bedrooms, big-city bars, and railway compartments. This world is as much a drug for Blum, the protagonist, as the cocaine itself.'

- Der Spiegel

'The Snowman by Jorg Fauser has been acclaimed as the best-ever crime novel written in German. Its protagonist, Blum, is trying to sell old porn magazines when he comes into possession of 5lb of cocaine worth $600,000 on the street. And that's when his troubles really start. Fauser, who was a heroin addict in his early years, shows his insight into the milieu in which Blum moves and there are moments of sardonic humour as he plumbs the depths of human desperation and degradation.'

- The Telegraph

'Fauser's description of an arty/druggie party in Munich is absolutely delicious with its ugly hippies, pretentious artists, the playing of violent porn films and allusions to Nazi paraphernalia. That someone who could evoke the seediness of the loser's world with such accuracy, power and compassion is no longer with us is very sad. But then maybe perhaps it's kind of 'right' too. Thanks Jorg Fauser, wherever you are, it's been a blast.'

- Shotsmag

'Fauser, a heroin addict until he kicked the habit at 30, pulls no punches in his lean, darkly comic debut crime thriller. Blum is having a tough time pushing his dated Danish skin magazines in Malta. ("Afghanis might get some satisfaction from these products, but in my view they have no artistic merit," a Pakistani porn dealer tells him.) With the Maltese police breathing down his neck, Blum seizes the chance to transport five pounds of Peruvian flake to Ostend, but he soon discovers the job is more trouble--and indeed far more dangerous--than it's worth. Part of the pleasure of following Blum's low-life adventures is the sense that they're closely based on the author's own. Bitter Lemon deserves kudos for introducing this fine German noir to an American audience.'

- Publishers Weekly
  • Zebedee Administrator
  • Jörg FauserReviewThe Snowman