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by Wolfgang Herrndorf, translated from the German by Tim Mohr, afterword by Michael Maar

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June 2018 selection for the NYRB Classics Book Club.

North Africa, 1972. While the world is reeling from the massacre of Israeli athletes at the Munich Olympics, a series of mysterious events is playing out in the Sahara. Four people are murdered in a hippie commune, a suitcase full of money disappears, and a pair of unenthusiastic detectives are assigned to investigate. In the midst of it all, a man with no memory tries to evade his armed pursuers. Who are they? What do they want from him? If he could just recall his own identity he might have a chance of working it out. . . .

This darkly sophisticated literary thriller, the last novel Wolfgang Herrndorf completed before his untimely death in 2013, is, in the words of Michael Maar, “the greatest, grisliest, funniest, and wisest novel of the past decade.” Certainly no reader will ever forget it.

Additional Book Information

Series: NYRB Classics
ISBN: 9781681372013
Pages: 464
Publication Date:


German original Wolfgang Herrndorf’s anarchic, brilliant and very funny thriller is like no other book, although it may help to think Catch-22 or even better, William Gaddis’s Carpenter’s Gothic. It must be said that Herrndorf’s dialogue stands equal to that of Gaddis and Thomas Pynchon, no mean feat, and it is masterfully rendered by translator Tim Mohr on inspired form.
—Eileen Battersby, Irish Times

Sand is a careful subversion of the crime thriller genre: no grand exposition is given, only an elegant conclusion left for careful readers.
—George Berridge, Times Literary Supplement

So dazzling and is a masterpiece: at once a thriller, a surrealist comedy, and a dark satire, culminating in one of the greatest twists I’ve read.
The Daily Telegraph

Herrndorf...writes with an arresting cinematic vividness, and there is more than a whiff of Coen brothers’ mayhem about the plot.
The Sunday Times

A hit in Germany...part Coen bros, part John le Carré.
Sunday Star

[Herrndorf’s] was an extraordinary mind.
—Philip Ardagh, The Guardian

A gripping and brilliantly funny thriller.

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