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Paranoia and disorientation in a literary masterpiece

The Guard

Peter Terrin

‘The Guard’ is set largely in the underground car park of a luxurious block of flats. Two guards, Harry and Michel, are responsible for the residents’ safety. They are never relieved, only now and again someone delivers new supplies. Their suspicions that the outside world has been scourged by a terrible disaster or war are reinforced as one by one the residents flee the building. Entirely isolated and living in austere conditions, they continue unabated to fulfil their task.

A sublime book and a brilliantly told story
Het Parool

When a third guard turns up unexpectedly, their perception of reality explodes and paranoia takes over. Harry turns to torturing the guard, one of their own, in a quest for the truth. When he and Michel make their way into the weird building above, they lose sight of each other. A tragedy takes place. Lost and starving, Michel accidentally discovers the last remaining resident, a stoic, Steve Jobs-like figure surrounded by computers.

Terrin tells a strongly allegorical story of 21st century society. ‘The Guard’ is not only an enthralling psychological novel, but also encompasses oppressiveness, emotion and sensuality.

A tremendous novel, often horrifically funny and always unsettling
Irish Times
‘Terrin's writing is outstanding’
Jean Mattern, former publisher Gallimard

We were immediately intrigued by Terrin’s writing, his very special tone, but also by the unconventional story line, or plot. The combination of both turns ‘The Guard’ into a unique novel that struck us on account of its originality.

Paralleling a very efficient narrative that transforms the book into a page-turner, Terrin develops an underlying reflection about our deepest fears, about control, and about what our societies might become.

The book fits in very well at Gallimard because the writing is outstanding, and ‘The Guard’ is a truly remarkable novel. Terrin has a unique voice and it is difficult to compare him to other writers. ‘The Guard’, however, made me think of Beckett.