Switzerland: Guilty Even Before Proven

I am quite sure I have never read an adult fiction book written by a Swiss author. I have read Heidi as a child, and I have read several books set in Switzerland, but not written by a Swiss author. The selection was not great either when I started looking for one, but one author kept on popping up, and I thought why not, and then I got my hands on a short novella by Friedrich Dürrenmatt called Traps.

It is an extremely fast read. It is short in itself, but also fast paced. A small group of old men formerly working with legal matters enjoy themselves by faux prosecuting strangers who end up staying in this remote spot in the Swiss mountains. An American travelling salesman called Traps end up staying there due to a car accident. The men organize a massive dinner with several bottles of wine. Traps ends up being prosecuted at this mock trial for his sins…

I think this one will work very well as a play, and it is a fairly good read, but I think I would get more out of it if I would watch the play. The setting is intriguing and so is the way the old men get a complete stranger to strip himself mentally naked in front of them confessing to his sins. Traps has led a crimeless life and he does not feel he has been a bad man, but after twists and turns he realizes a thing or two about himself and his life.

I found some similarities to Kafka’s The Trial, albeit Traps it more straight forward and less complicated, in some ways Kafkaesque, but simpler. It is fairly comical at times, but the ending is more like a Greek tragedy. In many ways it is a clever short book and I can only imagine Dürrenmatt having a laugh while writing it. If you would like a fast, easy read with both serious and comical elements, and a book set in Switzerland this would be a good choice!

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