The Exception 

Christian Jungersen ? Nan A. Talese ? Available July 10

Jumpstarted when two employees of the fictitious Danish Center for Genocide Information receive death threats, Christian Jungersen’s English language debut is a consummate example of Scandinavian literature’s fondness for empathizing with the most reprehensible characters — or at least contextualizing them. Jungersen’s four-voice narration seems uniquely equipped to this pursuit: how better to appreciate all sides of a situation than to have access to all possible viewpoints? But this sleight of hand is precisely The Exception’s genius — it appropriates the reader’s sympathies, tricking her into assuming she has an undiluted, accurate perception of each character’s motives and actions. Set aside the ironical framework — the cast of hyper-intellectuals who document war atrocities every day — or the plot’s devolution into action-packed chase sequences peopled with Serbian war criminals and a ‘twist’ ending that is so mundane in its predictability that you actually don’t see it coming. The Exception compels you to accept the impossibility of ever truly knowing yourself — much less another person. As Agatha Christie wrote, “Every murderer is probably someone’s old friend.”

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