international review: sascha arango, the truth and other lies

Claus Moreany’s publishing house is on the verge of going under when his distractingly beautiful employee Betty discovers a manuscript by an unknown author in a pile and brings it to his desk. Frank Ellis becomes a runaway bestseller, subsequent books sell millions, and the now-famous author Henry Hayden becomes a wealthy man living in a beautiful house with a lovely wife, a sporty-looking dog and the magazine spreads to prove it. All is well until the day that Betty, who is not his wife, tells him that she is pregnant with his child. So Henry vows to himself: it is time to tell my Martha the truth. But Henry has never been a man to care about things like the truth when a skewed version of events will suffice.

The Truth and Other Lies is a marvellous book, the kind that never lets you get comfortable enough to let you think you know what’s happening – author Sascha Arango is always one step ahead of you, and his creation, Henry, is one calculated story away from reality. Being this wrong-footed is quite the delight, as is Hayden, smooth as aged whiskey but with as many secrets as a thirteen-year-old’s diary. I barely want to say more in case I spoil anything for you, but Arango’s icy prose and Germany’s sun-kissed seaside locale make for the perfect read as our own nights get longer, and as dark as Hayden himself.

a version of this appeared previously in the Readings Monthly.