The Dumb House (Vintage Classics) - John Burnside

No one could say it was my choice to kill the twins, any more than it was my decision to bring them into the world.



As a child, the unnamed narrator listened to his mother telling a persian myth about the dumb house. The dumb house is a palace, in which Akbar the Great put newborn children, attended only by mutes, in order to learn if the children would aquire a language of their own. His goal has been to determine, whether speach is innate or aquired and if speach is a devine gift of the gods. And above all, if speach is connected to the soul. The unnamed narrator gets obsessed with the idea of the dumb house and he starts to do expirements. Is speach an innate gift? And where is the soul located?


You thought Hannibal Lecter was creepy? Well, think again and meet the unnamed narrator of this novel (fyi, we get to know his name by the end of the novel). This book is told through the perspective of a man, who is totally devoid of any emotions and empathy and he is doing horrible, horrible things. Reading this book is like getting a glimpse of a totally disturbed mind and this book is unsettling, to say the least. And yet John Burnside manages to create a character, who doesn´t appear to be crazy. Everything the main character does is totally reasonable within his own mindset and since he shares his thoughts, the reader understands why he does certain things the way he does. 


This book is definitely not for everyone. It´s disturbing, unsettling and harrowing. But on the other hand it´s engrossing, mesmerizing and fascinating. And it´s just really, really good.