Karl Iagnemma Recommends

Karl recommends The Royal Physician’s Visit, by Per Olov Enquist. He says, “Enquist is a Swedish writer who isn’t very well known in the U.S., which is a shame–his novels are strange and excellent. The Royal Physician’s Visit is his best. It takes place in the 1760s in Denmark, and follows the intellectual, political, and emotional drama surrounding the mad King Christian and his courtiers. Enquist takes what could be a fairly dry set-up (there’s much discussion of Enlightenment philosophy) and turns it into something profoundly engrossing, through his idiosyncratically precise writing and his focus on the complexity of each character’s emotions. It’s one of those rare books that manages to create an entire world, completely foreign yet utterly recognizable. It’s also one of those books that makes you reevaluate what a novel can say, and how it can say it. It’s just absolutely great–elegant and intelligent and moving. A great novel.”

Karl Iagnemma is the author of On the Nature of Human Romantic Interaction, a collection of short stories published by the Dial Press. His writing has been anthologized in the Best American Short Stories and Pushcart Prize collections. He is currently at work on a novel.