There’s no better author than this French novelist to read in the time of Covid-19. Through
his books I’ve discovered that studying others’ radical differences gives a lot of insights about oneself. Tournier understood social distancing before it was a term; he’s a master of exploring the hermit’s mind.
In The Erl-King
(Atlantic Books, 2013) he introduces Abel Tiffauges, an atypical character whose thinking is incongruous with our mental models. The book follows his journey from prisoner of war to becoming the “ogre” of a Nazi school. There, he steals young Aryans from their families—a direct analogy to Nazism
itself. A strange novel for a strange