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The Dolphin People Paperback – November 17, 2009
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From Publishers Weekly
Krol's bizarre second novel (after Callisto) sends a Nazi-sympathizer family into the wilds of the Amazon. Sixteen-year-old narrator Erich Linden is fleeing to Venezuela with his war widow mother, Helga, and effeminate younger brother, Zeppi, after the fall of the Reich. They've been sent for by Erich's uncle Klaus, who intends to marry Helga as part of a plan to change his identity to evade prosecution for war crimes. Once they arrive and are rebranded as the Brandt family, they head inland to their new home, but their plane crashes, leaving them stranded in the Amazon, where they are welcomed by members of the Yayomi tribe, who believe the Brandts are dolphins in human form, as prophesied by a tribesman's dreams. Gerhard Wentzler, a German anthropologist who has been living with the tribe, serves as a translator, helping the dolphins stay as long as possible, which isn't long. Though the dolphin conceit is a stretch and the climax is too chaotic to be fulfilling, Krol is adept at creating suspense while imbuing the story with an unexpected amount of compassion and tenderness. (Dec.)
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Krol, rumored to be an Australian writer intent on Pynchonesque invisibility, made a splash with Iraq War–oriented Callisto (2009), his second novel, thus triggering the American release of his debut. A mesmerizing storyteller with a taste for grotesque, wildly improbable satire, Krol brings together Nazi Klaus, in exile in Venezuela just after World War II, and his newly arrived, widowed sister-in-law and her two sons––Erich, 16, our able narrator, and 12-year-old Zeppi, whose maturing body carries a startling secret. A plane crash strands them in the jungle among a group of Yayomi, a fictional tribe much like the Yanomami. They believe the four fair strangers are dolphin people with magical powers, roles the family assumes with the help of a German anthropologist who knows nothing of the war. What ensues is a campy tragedy of errors and madness, a reverse Heart of Darkness, as the blood orchid of Nazi anti-Semitism takes root in Venezuelan soil, and Erich attains manhood under bizarre and deadly circumstances. Krol’s clever, gory, suspenseful, and outrageous novel asks, What is primitive? What is savage? --Donna Seaman
Top customer reviews
A Nazi widow takes her two sons to Venezuela to join their uncle, a former SS doctor in hiding - and on the way their plane crashes into the jungle. To survive, they must live off the charity of an Amazonian tribe who believes them to be shape-shifting dolphins, thanks to the quick talking of a batty old anthropologist who has been living there over a decade. Many strange and awful things occur which cause the narrator Erich to realize all the Nazi propaganda he was taught is completely wrong.
This is not my taste books, but the writing and storytelling was so impressive that I could not put it down. A page turner and some of the best writing I've read.
That said, the book was a bit crude for my taste. Written in a 5th grade boy's crude humor and a bit too graphic for my taste. However, the story was engaging and there were several underlying messages blended into the story making it not only entertaining, but a good reminder of several important aspects of life we tend to take for granted.
A worthwhile read if you want to get lost in a creative story with a good underlying message.
He took it with him on a short trip and finished it that weekend.
I don't often read books twice, but I think I will read this one again. There are so many angles to the story, yet it is easy reading.