NYT BR Weighs In on ‘The Kindly Ones’

THE controversial livre du jour is The Kindly Ones, by Jonathan Littell. It’s been a success in France, where it sold 700,000 copies and received top literary honors. The reception of the English translation has ranged from “a great work of literary fiction,” (Anthony Beevor, The Times of London) to “willfully sensationalistic and deliberately repellent” (Michiko Kakutani the NYT).

In the upcoming NYT BR (3/6), David Gates, author of The Wonder of the Invisible World, damns it more faintly ; “apparently a middlebrow historical epic gone willfully weird.” 

On the other hand, Samuel Moyn (Columbia history professor and author of A Holocaust Controversy: The Treblinka Affair in Postwar France), writing in The Nation, March 23rd issue, defends the book in a long and thoughtful review. And Daniel Mendelsohn does the most thorough literary analysis to date in the New York Review of Books, saying the book is an achievement, “however badly it may stumble.”

We hear that the Washington Post will also review it tomorrow in the Style section.

The book is in the top 100 on Amazon (at #76 now; it went up to #52 yesterday). Unless there is a difference between bookstore buyers and online buyers for this title, those numbers indicate it is likely to hit print bestseller lists. Library reserves are generally light (even though the ratios are high in some places due to light ordering). It may be a book people are buying simply to have, rather than to read.

But wait, some may want to listen to it; Blackstone has released an audio version. It’s unabridged, resulting in a 37.6 hour behemoth. It’s also available on PlayAway, a distinct advantage over 31 CDs!

You can listen to a sample on the Blackstone website.


Audio, Unabridged


Part 1 of 2;  978-1-4332-7915-7; 15 Tapes; $95.95  
Part 2 of 2 ;978-1-4332-8767-1; 14 Tape $79.95

1 Playaway; 978-1-4332-7923-2; $109.99
2 MP3CD; 978-1-4332-7919-5 $44.95
31 CD; 978-1-4332-7916-4 $159.00

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