Skip to product information
1 of 1

The Liar

The Liar

by Martin A. Hansen, translated from the Danish by Paul Larkin, introduction by Morten Høi Jensen

Regular price $16.95
Regular price Sale price $16.95

The May 2023 selection of the NYRB Classics Book Club

One of the greatest works of modern Scandinavian fiction, The Liar tells the story of Johannes Lye, a teacher and parish clerk on tiny Sand Island off the coast of Denmark, a place that in winter is entirely cut off from the world at large by ice. It is winter when the book begins, and for years now Johannes has lived alone, even as he nurses a secret passion for Annemari, a former pupil. Annemari is engaged to a local man, Olaf, who has left the island but is due to return come spring. She is also being courted by a young engineer from the mainland. Such are the chief players in a compact drama, recorded in Johannes’s ironic, self-lacerating, and anything but reliable diary.

Martin A. Hansen’s novel beautifully evokes the stark landscape of Sand Island and the immemorial circuit of the seasons as well as the mysterious passage of time in the human heart, all the while proceeding to a supremely suspenseful conclusion.

Additional Book Information

Series: NYRB Classics
ISBN: 9781681377186
Pages: 248
Publication Date:


[A]n extraordinary novel...It is Niki's sheer dogginess, so perfectly rendered throughout, that is at the heart of this novel's greatness.
— Katherine A. Powers, The Boston Globe

[The Liar] is a book that will lead readers to marvel at how intricate storytelling and human life can be, and how subtly their intricacies can be linked.
—Poul Houe, Rain Taxi Review

One of Hungary's leading novelists...Mr. Dery brings a kind of cunning naivete that records (or imagines) with utmost seriousness all the tremors of Niki's soul. He puts, as it were, the psychological realism of the contemporary novel at the disposal of a fox terrier.
The New York Times

Outstanding Hungarian novelist and imprisoned hero of the 1956 revolution.
The Nation

Niki is a masterpiece, like Of Mice and Men, of the presentation of "Man's inhumanity to man."
— Richard Church

In Niki there is nothing mawkish: one's heart is truly touched. By centering his seemingly artless story on the figure of a dog—that humblest, most poignant, and tenacious symbol of devotion, of the need to be attached—Tibor Déry has done more than present a contemporary political and human tragedy; he has illumined what might be called canine situation under the aspect of eternity.
— Rosamond Lehmann

[Déry's stories] remind me of stories by Tolstoy, Chekhov, Verga, Lawrence and Hemingway. Here is one of the outstanding writers of the twentieth century.
— Ben Sonnenberg

Tibor Déry has few equals among writers in Hungarian...[He] is one of the...masters of that great tradition of European realism that we associated with the name of Thomas Mann, and he deserves our close attention.
Times Literary Supplement (London)

View full details
  • Shopping for someone else but not sure what to give them? Give them the gift of choice with a New York Review Books Gift Card.

    Gift Cards 
  • A membership for yourself or as a gift for a special reader will promise a year of good reading.

    Join NYRB Classics Book Club 
  • Is there a book that you’d like to see back in print, or that you think we should consider for one of our series? Let us know!

    Tell us about it