With relentless realism Jungersen depicts the
day-to-day cruelty that can make desks into battle lines and crush
a person without anyone taking much notice... The author effectively
lets the perspective – and
the sympathies – shift among the four colleagues. Four individuals
mean four different realities; the reader becomes more and more unsure
of what actually happened and is kept on tenterhooks until the very
last page. It is technically brilliant, but also psychologically
convincing. Jungersen has a sense for detail – expressions,
gestures, tone of voice – and does not shrink from complications.
The characters are allowed to be as complex and contradictory as
people normally are.
With razor-sharp precision Jungersen dissects human nature, and the
result is a study in the psychology of evil, from genocidal massacres
to freeze-outs in the office lunchroom. The focus continually shifts
between theory and practice, the big world and the small, and disturbing
questions are raised. Do the same mechanisms lie behind harassment
as behind genocide? Could anyone become a murderer? Are we driven
by nothing more than selfishness and self-preservation?
The Exception is simultaneously a truly suspenseful and morally challenging
novel – not to mention shocking. It makes you think – but
it also makes you take a look over your shoulder. Nothing is safe
as far as the eye can see.
This is an unbearably suspenseful pyschological thriller that takes
place in Copenhagen at a center for the documentation of genocide...
Murder and kidnapping make for an incredibly fascinating and exciting
story. As a woman I was stunned to see how a man could use psychological
drama to describe how a woman thinks and feels. This book is highly
Go kväll / Swedish Television
Yes, I know – it’s risky to claim that
a novel will become a classic. Because who am I to know what the
literary experts of the future will insist is a must-read? And yet,
Christian Jungersen has written a novel which is among the best and
most powerful I have read in many years. Whether it becomes a classic
or not, it’s a staggering reading experience.
First of all, The Exception is a novel with scope – its very length might
seem intimidating. But what’s 600 pages when story and language achieves
this quality level?
Second, the novel is an incredibly skillful depiction of harassment in a small
office. An office where the employees are supposed to know everything about human
evil and what makes us humans do inconceivable things to one another.
Christian Jungersen’s storytelling skill is brilliant: He shifts perspective
by letting each of the four women takes turns as the protagonist. It’s
not a first-person narrative, but the reader continually has the story illuminated
from multiple points of view. What for Malene is a polite conversational tone
sounds reproachful to Anne-Lise’s ears; what for Iben is simple and obvious
is for Camilla almost insurmountable.
This gives the story a dynamism and a tension that captivated me completely.
I can’t remember the last time I unintermittingly kept thinking about a
novel the way I did while I was reading The Exception.
It’s as exciting as a thriller without actually being one. There are minor
elements of both the mystery and the thriller genre, but what I will remember
most from The Exception is the fantastic portraits of four women and an incredibly
good description of the mechanisms of harassment. And the question remains: Is
day-to-day harassment only one step on the path leading to genocide? And if so:
Can anyone at all in a given scenario become a harasser and, at the extreme end
of the scale, end up sympathizing or participating in genocide?
Christian Jungersen gives no direct answer, but he leads the reader to some serious
So: Run right over to the bookstore or the library. The
Exception deserves to
be a bestseller.
An intricate network of sympathies, antipathies, loyalties, and dependences
is created among the women in the novel The Exception... Jungersen has an
exceptionally good eye for detail and for the nuances of calculation and
envy that mark even the most loyally devoted best-friend relationship. This
is an aspect that particularly distinguishes the novel: it illuminates the
complexity that lies behind our actions, how we at any given time are subjugated
conflicting interests and impulses.
Making use of a traditional narrative style, Jungersen succeeds
in effectively puncturing all more or less ideologically tinged explanations
for why society is organized a certain way, why people act a certain way,
etc. Doing this within the framework of an suspenseful thriller is not something
most writers could accomplish. It’s no surprise that Christian Jungersen
has had such well-deserved success in his own country.
The Exception is an important book about
a serious issue. It is a book that should be widely read. Those
of you who are not fans of suspense novels or thrillers, don’t let the genre hold
you back! This is a multi-layered book that poses many relevant
questions – no fixed answers are presented, but there is
much to think about.
Among a group of politically involved women a case of harassment
develops that is sometimes so horrible that the narrative is almost
painful to read. With a devilishly premeditated finesse, Anne-Lise
is ousted from the group, affecting her whole life and those around
her in a macabre way. How things get to this point – and
it could happen to anyone – and how all attempts to get out
of the swamp of harassment just make the situation worse, is so
well described that the reader often shares the characters’ discomfort.
Jungersen, who was named writer of the year in Denmark in 2004
for this novel, has produced a sinister story with a suspenseful,
violent dénouement and an unexpected ending.
With a creeping, horrid feeling that grows more and more claustrophobic,
Christian Jungersen skillfully depicts the way an individual can
mirror great events; how the same mechanisms of oppression can work
in small groups as well as in the large and terrible contexts reported
in the newspapers and television from all over the world. The mechanisms
that lead people to be willing to act as bloody executioners are
also found in our midst in daily life. What distinguishes us from
the executioners is per-haps only the historical circumstances, the
fact that reality is pushed to the extreme. But Christian Jungersen
supplies no cut-and-dried or easy answers. He studiously avoids clichés.
The question permeating the entire novel The Exception is this: Are
people good or evil in their innermost nature? The question he chisels
out at last is a question directed at the reader: What do you see
inside yourself? What would you have done?
... This is a very convincing psychological novel. It conveys a deep sense of
un-easiness and poses a number of extremely crucial and important questions.
Sweden - Undantaget