Magazine October 2, 2017, Issue

Word Games

Novelist Laurent Binet. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)
The Seventh Function of Language: A Novel, by Laurent Binet, translated by Sam Taylor (Farrar, Straus, 368 pp., $27)

Laurent Binet’s debut novel, HHhH, was awarded the Prix Goncourt for first novel in 2010. The title is an abbreviation for “Himmler’s Brain Is Called Heydrich” (“Himmlers Hirn heißt Heydrich”), referring to the very dark SS figure Reinhard Heydrich, who, until his assassination in Prague in 1942, was one of the chief architects of the plan to exterminate all Jews in German-occupied lands of Europe. The novel centers on the special operation to assassinate Heydrich and the subsequent scorched-earth response of the Nazis, in which the entire Czech village of Lidice was wiped from the face of the earth. Binet’s

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