FROM THE NEW YORKER, MAY 23, 2011
Funeral for a Dog, by Thomas Pletzinger, translated from the German by Ross Benjamin (Norton; $14.95). In this grave, gentle novel, Daniel Mandelkern, a journalist and former ethnologist, is sent to profile Dirk Svensson, the reclusive, childless author of a best-selling children's book. He soon realizes that "the research intern did a terrible job": Svensson does have a child, possibly two, as well as a three-legged dog and an alluring Finnish house guest named Tuuli. Seeing in Tuuli "the possibility of another life," Daniel tries to solve the mystery of her relationship with Svensson. But his notes, which combine observation with found documents -- a drawing on a receipt, a manuscript discovered in a locked suitcase -- prove to be "half memory," half "imagination," just like Svensson's stories. Ultimately, Daniel's narrative is evidence of an old human hope. "I will finally get to the bottom of myself," he declares.