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A less-than-kindly greeting for a prized French novel

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It may have won the prestigious Prix Goncourt in France, but "The Kindly Ones," Jonathan Littell's novel about World War II and the Holocaust, is not receiving a particularly friendly reception in the United States.

There have been those who've praised it to the skies (including Tina Brown and author Michael Korda), but in the New York Times Michiko Kakutani called it, "willfully sensationalistic and deliberately repellent ... a pointless compilation of atrocities and anti-Semitic remarks, pointlessly combined with a gross collection of sexual fantasies."

She further added that, "That such a novel should win two of France's top literary prizes is not only an example of the occasional perversity of French taste, but also a measure of how drastically literary attitudes toward the Holocaust have changed in the last few decades."


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