ross benjamin

FROM THE NEW YORKER, JANUARY 12, 2015

In this novel by an Austrian writer, children with a mysterious condition -- Indigo syndrome -- cause those who come near to suffer from nausea, dizziness, diarrhea. Some parents send their so-called "I-children" to an experimental boarding school, where they encounter a teacher and writer named Clemens J. Setz. The novel's irreverence -- Batman is a frequent reference -- undercuts its efforts to create an air of intrigue, but the questions it raises regarding empathy and loneliness are explored in moving and idiosyncratic ways. Setz's ostracized characters can empathize even with a fluorescent bulb: "It had waited so long for someone to finally stand under it, and now everything pent up in it burst out at once."