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Imagining horror

Why does a novel about Hitler fail, while one about Rwanda triumphs? It's truth to fiction, rather than history, that counts

By Jason Cowley   January 2004

A Sunday at the pool in Kigali by Gil Courtemanche Siegfried by Harry Mulisch

In his latest novel, Elizabeth Costello, JM Coetzee turns the English-born writer Paul West into a fictional character. West, who lives and works in America, exists; he is the author of The Very Rich Hours of Count von Stauffenberg, a little-known novel about the lives and gruesome deaths of the aristocratic German officers who failed in their attempt to assassinate Hitler in July 1944. In his novel, West imagines what happened to the men following their capture. He details the humiliation and pain of their torture…

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