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Literature / The Zone of Interest

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The Zone of Interest is a 2014 Novel by Martin Amis. The story is set in the Auschwitz concentration camp between the years 1942-43, with an epilogue in 1948. It is told through three rotating PoVs: Angelus 'Golo' Thomsen, an outwardly easygoing womanizer, who slowly begins to grapple with his role as a "Schreibtischtäter", Paul Doll, the camp commandant, who spirals ever deeper into delusions to justify his actions and to uphold his manhood, and Szmul, a Jewish inmate who prolongs his life by working as the head of the Sonderkommando.


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  • The Alcoholic: Paul Doll
  • Anti-Hero: What Thomsen ends up as, at best.
  • Arc Words: References to "Walpurgisnacht".
  • The Atoner: Thomsen becomes this, first trying to sabotage the factory, and later working for the Americans on de-nazification
  • Bilingual Bonus: There are a lot of German words and phrases in the book, especially in Doll's narratives, and only a small number of them are translated.
  • Bittersweet Ending: While both Thomsen and Hannah Doll seem to have found a measure of happiness in their lifes after the war, the circumstances under which they met each other make their relationship impossible
  • Chivalrous Pervert: Thomsen
  • Cold-Blooded Torture: Mobius and Dr. Entress excel at this.
  • Face Death with Dignity: The Polish workers, because their families are threatened with death if they resist.
  • Fan Disservice: The book goes to great lengths to portray most sexual situations as unpleasant as possible.
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  • For the Evulz: The whole book is a Deconstruction of the question of "Evil" and human agency in the context of the Holocaust.
  • Gas Chamber
  • Historical Domain Character: Naturally, many are mentioned or briefly appear, and Martin Bormann appears prominently in the story and is cast as Thomsen's uncle.
  • Industrialized Evil: In a way, the whole point of the Kat Zet.
  • Mercy Kill: Szmul lures away and quickly kills a boy who used to be a friend of his son.
  • Mood Whiplash: Is sure to swiftly follow after every comic situation.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Paul Doll's last words.
  • Nazi Protagonist: Two out of three.
  • Posthumous Character: Dieter Krüger
  • Rage Within the Machine: Thomsen's attempt at sabotage, Hannah's attempt to undermine her husband.
  • Translation Convention: The liberal use of German is quite inexplicable from a diegetic perspective.
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  • "Where Are They Now?" Epilogue: The epilogue starts by recounting the fate of most characters. It's usually death.
  • Your Days Are Numbered: All the Sonderkommandos live with this certainty. Later, Paul Doll explicitly tells Szmul when he is going to be killed.
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