ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT
Eagles and Angels a successful first novel
Eagles and Angels
By: Juli Zeh
329 pages, $22.95
By Laura Katsirdakis
Eagles and Angels by Juli Zeh is an intriguing book.
This is Zeh’s first foray into novel writing. Ofterntimes, an author’s
first novel is either a massive flop or a wonderful success — and a successful
first novel has an originality and freshness that is rare.
Eagles and Angels grabs the reader’s attention through an odd premise.
The main character, Max, is in the midst of a drug-induced stupor after his
girlfriend Jessie shoots herself while on the phone with him. Clara, an ambitious
PhD psychology student, decides Max’s condition is interesting enough
for her to write her doctoral thesis on, and she commences on a mission to
get his story out of him.
Max’s life quickly deteriorates as he abandons everything but his cocaine,
and the book focuses on what led up to his current state.
Zeh’s book was originally published in German in 2001. It was released
in 2003 in English, translated by Christine Slenczka. The writing does not
seem to lose anything in the translation. It is absorbing, engaging and smooth.
Max’s careless abandon and overwhelming sorrow is portrayed in such
a clear light that it almost makes the reader feel depressed; but the promise
of finding out what led him there keeps the pages turning.
The explanation is long and complicated, but also extremely entertaining.
Max’s job as a lawyer with an international law firm is as relevant to
the story as Jessie’s druglord father. As his story comes into focus,
Zeh articulates a grim commentary on the society he lives in.
In the midst of this complicated story, the simplicity of Max’s devotion
to Jessie is a stark contrast. He wonders why his dog is always so happy to
see him, yet he gave the same unquestioning adoration to Jessie when she was
The book is well written, contains perplexing and entertaining characters
and dabbles with the elusive worlds of drug trafficking and international law,
while telling the story through the eyes of a suicidal, drugged out man overtaken
Give it a read — you will not be disappointed.