Book Review – I Am Radar by Reif Larsen



Where on earth do I begin with this?

I’m not going to try and explain the storyline of Reif Larsen’s second novel I Am Radar because that would take half the fun out of it. Imagine a story (mostly) centred around a young man with black skin born in the 70s in New Jersey to white parents and who later has unnatural abilities with radio and electricity via a collection of scientists cum performance artists working from a hidden base in the Arctic they used to hide from the Nazis, an unnaturally talented puppeteer in Bosnia in the 90s, a remote rubber plantation in Cambodia as the Khmer Rouge take over and a professor amassing the world’s largest library deep in the heart of the Congo River through an obscure history/particle physics book in Danish… see what I meant about it being quite unexplainable from the outside? The subject matter does give you an idea of whether this might be your sort of thing though.

I know that all might sound a bit childish, frivolous, even stupid, bit it’s not. It’s as if Haruki Murakami and Wes Anderson had a love child via Werner Herzog with a bit of David Mitchell thrown in. In my life this is a very, very good thing. Yes, it does digress from the “main” story for huge tracts of time (but those stories in themselves are almost whole novellas) but don’t hold that against it.

It’s long, bogglingly ambitious and takes a little while to ignite but it’s one of the most involving, bonkers, batshit crazy and best books I’ve read this year.