Laurent Binet: HHhH
Prague, 1942. Two men have been enlisted to kill the head of the Gestapo, two Czechoslovak parachutists sent on a daring mission by London to assassinate Reinhard Heydrich, the principal architect of the Final Solution. Laurent Binet joins us from France to discuss his debut novel HHhH, and to ask, when you are a novelist writing about real people, how do you resist the temptation to make things up?
Heydrich’s boss is Heinrich Himmler but everyone in the SS says “Himmler’s brain is called Heydrich”, which in German spells “HHhH”. Binet’s book, which won the prestigious Prix Goncourt du premier roman and the Prix des Lecteurs du Livre de Poche in France, is a panorama of the Third Reich told through the life of one outstandingly brutal man, a story of heroism and loyalty, revenge and betrayal.
“HHhH blew me away. Binet’s style fuses it all together: a neutral, journalistic honesty sustained with a fiction writer’s zeal and story-telling instincts. It’s one of the best historical novels I’ve ever come across.” Bret Easton Ellis
“Laurent Binet has given a new dimension to the non-fiction novel by weaving his writerly anxieties about the genre into the narrative, but his story is no less compelling for that, and the climax is unforgettable.” David Lodge
Laurent Binet lives and works in France.Philippe Sands