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Book review: In the Capital is a pig loose in Europe

A real live pig running through the centre of Brussels, in the austrian Robert Menasses novel ”the Capital”. They who see it believe their eyes, so is the fort past on their short legs, but the rumor persists. What is the meaning of a pig? An unclean animal for muslims and jews, in German a dirty word that can also mean good luck, in the EU the subject of agricultural and trade policies. The EU is in fact the topic of this as much fun as melancholy of the novel, the EU as a oinfriat promise of something bigger and more important than a grismarknad.

Menasse has previously published two books of essays in which he agitates for a EUROPE which reflects what he calls postnationalism. In today's reality fits this utopia, according to him, in Commission, where the supranational, enlightened officials present the excellent plans that are then rapidly made if none of the Council of europe's nationalist politicians. In the novel turn, however, debattinläggets unambiguous gravity to the wonderfully confusing ambiguity, as Menasse is shaped by people who seldom succeed with their good intentions.

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Xenopoulous, kulturkommissionären who want to be first with a proposal for how the commission will celebrate its 60th anniversary, but who also want to climb the career ladder, away from Culture, it is the least significant of all the EU's directorate. Her official Martin, the son of an austrian grisproducent, preparing the proposal: an ”Auschwitz-event” where the survivors of the Holocaust will testify on the EU's original idea: no more war, no more destruction, no more nationalism – it is Europe! But how many survivors are there? And who has the lists?

The old man de Vriend, whose incipient dementia Menasse prisoners with great ömsinthet, make their own list of the last surviving and stroking them as he finds their obituaries until only his name remains. There is also the dated professor who accidentally invited to a think tank to hold a key note and whose confused notes leads him to the conclusion that Auschwitz must become Europe's new capital. The audience in Brussels, which, incidentally, is portrayed with cartographic accuracy, and the conclusion krogkännedom, the tiger astonished.

Here is some additional finely-chiselled figures, the bearers of the author's ideas and at the same time captivating individuals. Menasse live in all of them, also in the Polish secret service terrorbekämpande agent Mateusz Oswiecki – the novel accommodates a corpse which, like the pig disappears without a trace – who realizes that he shot the wrong man, and in commissioner Martin's resignation: he understands from the beginning that his jubileumsförslag will encounter on patrol.

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long women, while the men observed with indulgence, as a series of admittedly critical but fundamentally loyal portrait of the author's various pages. Exceptions are lustmordet on the swede Lars Ekelöf, a lutheran who feel morally superior while he never lowers the garden. But just as I prepared to judge out Menasse as incurable mansgris to change, including his portraits of women, the karriärsugna Fenia gets human features, her longing to be fully understandable, and her nickname is Xeno – stranger – pointing her out as the ideal EUROPEAN citizen, a stranger among the voluntarily united strangers from all corners of Europe.

The road to read into the meanings of fictitious name and find the hidden literary references have a lot to look forward to in this novel, Musils ”Man without qualities” and Kafka's ”the Metamorphosis” are just two of several subtitles. Hillevi His translation hangs nicely in the turns. Above all, this is a novel for those who like to see the policies and ideas embodied in literary form: Menasse press as much as he can, chinese imports of pig ears, refugees on the march through Hungary, the attack in the Brussels metro in 2016, growing racism and nationalism throughout Europe.

It had been too frivolously, on the border of tasteless, if not Menasses swift satire had been balanced by an underlying strong despair over the state of things. Menasse is the child of austrian jews who managed to get to England in 1938, and thus escaped the Holocaust. His conviction that nationalism ultimately always ends up in Auschwitz and that the EU therefore needs to achieve just a postnationell world is no joke, without the deepest seriousness. ”Capital” is a cleverly composed, skillfully argumenterad and deeply engaging samtidsroman. Fiction, yes, and you believe in it, and a pig running loose in Europe!

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