Reviews of Legend of a Suicide

50 French reviews in pdf (titled Sukkwan Island in French)

80 selected reviews:

“The reportorial relentlessness of Vann’s imagination often makes his fiction seem less written than chiseled. A small, lovely book has been written out of his large and evident pain. ‘A father, after all,’ Vann writes, ‘is a lot for a thing to be.’ A son is also a lot for a thing to be; so is an artist. With Legend of a Suicide, David Vann proves himself a fine example of both.”—Tom Bissell, New York Times Book Review

“David Vann’s extraordinary and inventive set of fictional variations on his father’s death will surely become an American classic.”—The Times Literary Supplement, Books of the Year 2009

“Sukkwan Island contains not a single wrong note, and makes most other modern fiction seem anaemic and insubstantial by comparison… It is the shape of Vann’s prose which continually astonishes. This is the sort of book which can be opened at random and devoured simply for the rhythm and stark beauty of its sentences… Vann’s vision will be too merciless for some, but Legend Of A Suicide marks the fictional debut of a truly great writer.”—The Irish Sunday Independent

“A piece of relentless, heartbreaking brilliance that bears comparison with Cormac McCarthy’s The Road.”—The Weekend Australian

“His legend is at once the truest memoir and the purest fiction…Nothing quite like this book has been written before.”—The London Observer

“For the imagery alone and for the sentences, the book would be a treasure.”—Colm Toibin, The London Observer, Books of the Year 2009

“Stunning … Heart-wrenching and gorgeous and its several voices are done indelibly and with unwavering authority … Imagination is a little trashy and roaming and undisciplined. Yet all good writers, as opposed to all readers, try through some alchemy to turn these impulses into something aesthetically useful. I’ve not seen more careful and luminousnarrative art made from them than in Vann’s novel. At least not in a long time.”—Lorrie Moore, The New Yorker Book Club

“Brilliant . . . Vann’s prose follows the sinews of Cormac McCarthy and Hemingway, yet has its own nimble flex.”—The Times

“One of the best writers of his generation.”—Le Figaro

“The great American novel we’ve awaited.”—Le Point

“A Masterpiece.”—France Inter (Radio)

“A new great American novelist.”—France Info (Radio)


“A Pure Diamond.”—Femme Actuelle

“An astounding novel.”—Le Canard Enchaine

“One of McCarthy’s true heirs.  A writer is born.”—Sud Ouest

“Moments that remind us of the Richard Ford of Rock Springs.”—Livres Hebdo (France)

“A seriously impressive work of literature.”—BBC World Service

“With Legend of a Suicide, Vann looks into the dark and isolated heart of the American soul. It is a devastating journey that is difficult to read but impossible to put down and equally impossible to forget.”—The San Francisco Chronicle

“The book is as dark, stormy, and beautiful as the ragged Aleutian coast.”—National Geographic Adventure

“Vengeful yet sorrowing and empathetic, plausible yet dreamlike, and completely absorbing.”—The Guardian

“Extraordinary…Reminiscent of Tobias Wolff, Vann’s prose is as pure as a gulp of water from an Alaskan stream.”—The Financial Times

“A powerful new voice has emerged in fiction.”—The Sunday Times Culture Profile

“David Vann’s fictionalized memoir of his father’s suicide, told through a series of harrowing, beautifully rendered stories, is a modern American classic.”—The Sunday Times review

“Comparisons to pinnacles of modernism would be too large a burden for most young writers to bear, but Vann’s back may be broad enough. There is a distinct feeling when reading Legend of a Suicide that this latest star from across the Atlantic can rise further still.”—The Independent on Sunday

“Its UK publisher’s comparisons with the likes of Wolff and Richard Ford aren’t, for once, misplaced.”—The Guardian

“One jaw-droppingly powerful, courageous and original fiction debut…As a 10th work of fiction this would be impressive; as a debut, it is remarkable.”—The Sunday Telegraph

“Quite possibly the finest American debut of the year.”—The Independent

“Unputdownable.”—The London Evening Standard

“Extraordinary…Vann has written something truly memorable, disturbing and heartbreaking.”—The Courier Mail (Australia)

“Vann has a gift for using the landscape to mirror the emotional isolation of the father and son.”—The Sydney Morning Herald

“The son spins a lethal web of memory and imagination to achieve a darkly disturbing revenge. A deeply affecting and spookily evocative literary debut.”—The Sunday Canberra Times

“The keynote of this cunningly structured fictionalised memoir is its tone of raw authenticity…painful and beautifully written.”—The Daily Mail

“Vann’s book contains one enormous surprise so unthinkable—and yet, when you do think about it, so emotionally fitting—that it acts like a body blow. I don’t think I’ve ever been so torn apart, so changed…there’s a streak of reckless violence at the heart of this book which rings truer than anything else I’ve read on the subject.”—Julie Myerson, Prospect Magazine

“It is in that terse, yet heavily freighted American style of Richard Ford, Tobias Wolff and Cormac McCarthy where small incidents and details ring with a far more resonant significance than they first appear to have. The result is a richly dense, emotionally complex set of stories, superbly written.”—David Mills, Esquire UK

“Oh my god, Legend of a Suicide just bowled me over completely. It is such a tender, heartbreaking, breathtaking, horrifying and insanely compelling read that when I finished it I went straight back to the beginning and round again. I implore anyone with functioning eyes to read this book.”—Florence Welch, lead singer of Florence and the Machine

“A sad and heartbreakingly wise story.”—MarieClaire UK

“Perfectly crafted, heartbreaking.”—Grazia

“Heart-rending.”—Harper’s Bazaar

“This is my ‘One to watch’, a literary debut set in Alaska about the effects of a father’s suicide on his son. It’s stunning, beautifully written, with genuine surprises and a complexity which makes you retrace your steps, wonder what really happened and ponder over the whole scenario for days. I loved it. It’s Richard Yates, Annie Proulx territory, and highly recommended.”—Sarah Broadhurst, The Bookseller

“Headlong narrative pacing, a memorable train-wreck father who gives Richard Russo’s characters a run for their money, and a sure, sharp, inviting voice. So hard to put down that I am thinking of suing David Vann for several hours of lost sleep.”—Lionel Shriver

“The most powerful, and pure, piece of writing I have read for a very long time. This book squeezes more life out of the first 100 pages than most books could manage in 1000, which is pretty impressive, considering it’s a book about death.”—Ross Raisin

“An extraordinary piece of work. David Vann’s dark and strange book twists through natural forces and compressed emotions towards an extraordinary and dreamlike conclusion. One of the most gripping debuts I’ve ever read.”—Philip Hoare

“In his portrayal of a young son’s love for his lost father David Vann has created a stunning work of fiction: surprising, beautiful and intensely moving.”—Nadeem Aslam

“David Vann’s Legend of a Suicide comprises of a novella and five stories that have already brought the writer recognition in his native America. The novella centres on another heartbreaking event: the moment when Roy, still only a child, learns that his father put a gun to his own head and ended his life. Unsurprisingly, that irrevocable loss dominates his life. Vann tells the story of his attempts to comprehend and to reconcile himself to it in a sustained piece of writing that often shocks with its raw emotion and energy.”—Alex Clark, Waterstone’s Books Quarterly magazine

“This is one of the most striking fictional debuts in recent memory, and David Vann is an important new voice in American literature.”—Robert Olen Butler

“Vann uses startling powers of observation to create strong characters, tense scenes and genuine surprises.”—Publishers Weekly

“As the title suggests, the stories in Legend of a Suicide approach a private mythos, revisiting, reinvestigating and reinventing one family’s broken past. They also transport us to wild, uncharted places on the Alaskan coast and in the American soul. Throughout, David Vann is a generous, surehanded guide in some very dangerous territory.”—Stewart O’Nan

“Based on his father’s suicide 28 years ago, MJ contributor David Vann’s debut fiction collection is as primal and unforgiving as the Alaskan wilds where it’s set.”—Men’s Journal

“The characters in these stories are extreme in their isolation from one another, whether they come together in a howling wind or in the comforts of a warm kitchen. Here is suicide, infidelity, madness; here are people whose skewed optimism about the next love affair, the next career, the next homestead, proves deadly. . . . Memory, affection for place, the mangled ways we manage to express the love we feel—David Vann is unafraid of the weight and the complication of these things. He is emboldened in these stories to fall headlong into the disorienting wilderness of the human heart and mind.”—Noy Holland, Gracy Paley Prize Judge

“In a departure from the more extreme versions of American literature which deals with suicide, such as that of Lowell and John Berryman, Vann finds an eloquent means of etching out an unknowable past without slipping irretrievably into its darkness…The ice-clear prose slips along, punctuated by touches of humour and glowing description…Stylistically, he walks in the tracks of Cormac McCarthy and Elizabeth Bishop…Against a grim back-cloth of financial hardship, rifle-obsession and remote towns, the natural history shines bright. This is not a scientific natural history, but a poetic one, in homage to Elizabeth Bishop’s ‘At The Fishhouses.’  Shimmering scales, leaping salmon and arctic waters are the symbolic touchstones of Vann’s work.”—Times Literary Supplement

“David Vann’s Legend of a Suicide, William Trevor’s Love and Summer and Sarah Hall’s How to Paint a Dead Man each deal with those difficult, essential aspects of life – love and death – with virtuosic writing.”—The Australian Best Books of the Year

“Exactly what fiction should do.”—Tom Sutcliffe, BBC Radio 4 Saturday Review

“A marvelous book…I thought it worked at every level…I had my breath taken away by its brilliance.”—David Aaronovitch, BBC Radio 4 Saturday Review

“A powerful book.”—John Carey, BBC Radio 4 Saturday Review

“There’s a mythic American family narrative in David Vann’s Legend of a Suicide,which spins off from his father’s death and childhood misadventures in Alaska in ways that are moving and darkly funny: this is a book to press on all your friends.”—Guardian Christmas Books

“With Legend of a Suicide, David Vann establishes himself as not only an impressive stylist but also a striking and subtle novelist of ideas. His debut book has redrawn the contours of possibility in fiction.”—The Literateur Magazine

“Hands down the best fictional debut we have read this year.”—Dazed and Confused

“A wonderful first novel…Absolutely unforgettable.”—RTL (French Radio)

“A detonation…Few recent novels know how to attain such an intensity.”—Le Figaro Magazine

“A beautiful text, tragic and dark.”—Le Matricule des Anges

“What a writer! His prose is compelling and expressive and the heavier and lighter moments are beautifully dosed.”—NRC Handelsblad (Dutch daily newspaper)

“A breathtaking debut. A justifiably praised masterpiece.”— (5-star review)

“A wonderful collection, one of the best books to come out this year. Overwhelming and devastating.”—De Standaard (5-star review)

“One of the best debut novels that I’ve read in the last five years.”—Wim Brands on VPRO Boeken Television

“A very promising debut.”—Financieele Dagblad

“David Vann surprises the reader with his vast empathic abilities.”—CJP Magazine

“Rare: a debut novelist who manages to transcend the trauma of his youth in wise, penetrating prose.”—Trouw

“This book – merciless and loving, vengeful and tender – is a modern American masterpiece.”—Het Parool (*****)

“Compared to David Vann, Hemingway is a sugary writer. A hard-hitting, but fantastic reading experience.”—De Pers (free daily newspaper)

“A heavy pall is draped around Legende van een zelfmoord but please do not let that stop you. You would miss out on a book of extreme beauty.”–HUMO

“He transforms the central elements of autobiographical experience into a thrilling and brutal piece of literature.”—Suddeutsche Zeitung

“This novel is a very American book, merciless in its consequence but full of grace in its empathy.  ‘Im Schatten des Vaters’ excuses nothing, but it blames no one.  It moves cooly but never cold–the fever curve of a catastrophe….  At the end one is like bathed in sweat.  And wants–as it goes with some nightmares–to start over again from the beginning.”—Die Welt

“David Vann’s uncompromising novel about a messed up life is a revelation….  David Vann is able to dissect a body of emotions.  Besides his artful way with dialogue and description, his intrepid nature is most impressive.  While reading one feels as if on an expedition to somewhere really dangerous.  And it is not Alaska.  It is oneself.”—taz

“A thrilling novel, told to us from despair and psychological violence.”—Frankfurter Rundschau

“David Vann’s perfect dark Alaskan novel.”—Luxemburger Wort

“With concise sentences David Vann created a powerful parable for all those children who carry the suffering of their parents.”—Markische Allgemeine Zeitung

“Develops a cruel narrative whirlpool which winds round and round in one’s head for a long time.”—Landeszeitung fur die Luneburger Heide

“David Vann’s masterly composed novel has a cathartic effect.  You can read it like a warning: it takes surprisingly little to destroy the life of those people you love most.”—Deutschlandradio Kultur

“You can’t forget the pictures he creates.”—Zeit-online

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