Lisa – Thomas Glavinic

To start my book reviews I have decided to take a look on one of my favourite authors´ latest book: “Lisa”, by Austrian writer Thomas Glavinic. A horrofying and at the same time totally funny novel in the ego perspective.

Here a sample of the book:


The unnamed protagonist flees with his son to a lonely mountain cabin in order to hide from a dangerous and mysterious serial criminal, a phantom no one has ever seen, called “Lisa”. Only her DNA was found in various crime scenes.

Every night he talks via internet radio to an invisible unresponding audience, while he is drinking, koksing. He talks about everything, simply every possible topic that comes to his mind. His life, job,  church, internet, eating, religion, snobiism, people and so on and so on. His audio-blods are only disturbed by routined bathroom visits and bad signal. And loneliness and his drug abuse bother him

The red line throughout the story is the story about “Lisa”. With interruptions, he tells his audience – and in that way: us – her story, her crimes, and how he came to believe that she is after him. The more he tells you, the less you know. And you can never imagine how the book ends (seriously, you can´t)

Analyses – with spoilers

Well, this novel belongs to Glavinic´s “funny books”. For those who don´t know him: Glavinic tends to write a teasing book, then a funny book, then a teasing one again.In this book, you laugh due to the narrator´s explantions and descriptions. An in the next moment, you disgust yourself becouse of the gruesome descriptions of “Lisa´s” murders (people got mutilated, eaten, and even skinned alive for example)

Though it deals with a lot of subjects, the book´s main issue is the problemetic intercourse with the media “internet”, especially the web 2.0 (Social Network Sites like Facebook, Myspace, or Free Braodcast-sites like Youtube): People share their private lives, their secrets, with the world. They willingly post anything private, transforming themselves into glassy humans. So also the protaginist, using a rather uncommon media form to reveal himself: internat radio. He doesn´t post on facebook, nor does he run a blog or go on youtube.

But nevertheless, he exposers everything from his private life, and even talks about his friends, his (Ex-)wife´s friends, his coworkers and so on. Not only does he make himself a glassy being, but seemingly also everybody he knows.

But you don´t want to hear about his life, you want to hear about Lisa, to know what´s going on with her.


How can she comitt several crimes throughout the entire world over a period of app. 25 years and no one ever watches her? Does she even exist?

You come to think that everything is a hoax, Lisa is an imagination, a false phantom like it happened in real life (where Glavinic got his idea from). Even the narrator tells us that that is the truth, but this conclusion happens when still 2 chapters have to be read. Then, we enter the realm of the meta-reality, where rationalism no longer can provide the truth.

On the last page, Glavinic doesn´t reveal Lisa (at least not in the way we expected), but he tells us something about her. the question is whether we can handle the knowlege or not


Lisa is the invisible horror that surrounds us, that also inheres in us.


“Lisa” is not a masterpiece, like Glavinic´s other novels “The Night´s Work”, “That´s just me” or “Life of the Wishes”, but a clever book, that is very enjoyable to read.

8 1/2 out of 10

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