This is a little slip of a book and quite why it should make the 1001 Books list at all is a mystery to me. There’s nothing wrong with it, but it’s not a patch on Perfume, his previous book.
You get a feeling that the nine years spent between Perfume and Pigeon were pretty barren as far as literature goes for Suskind and, when pressed for some content, he gave in and allowed his publishers to issue the precis for the novel that had eluded him.
It’s a shame because the premise is a good one and, without more flesh on the Pigeon‘s bones, there’s too much here that others (The Nose, One No-One and One Hundred Thousand, Kafka’s Metamorphosis) have done before. And they’ve mostly done it better.
Jonathan has his life perfectly organised, but when a pigeon turns up in the corridor outside his flat one morning, it triggers his emotional undoing.
That’s pretty much it and, as I say, it’s such a shame that we don’t get more of Suskind’s wonderful writing to enjoy or a more gradual descent into mania to tantalise us into thinking he couldn’t possibly lose it to that extent.
Instead, it romps along and an hour or so later you’re thinking you could do with more. Ah well…