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Aladdin's Problem

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Genre Prose

Year 2014

Language English

Volume book: Full version

Friedrich Baroh, is beset by problems. Anarch, aspiring entrepreneur, and amateur historian of ideas, the aristocratic Baroh is also, unfortunately, a soldier in the East German army. His eventual defection to the West leads to a college degree, marriage, and a good job at his uncle's funeral parlor, but it can't dispel Baroh's other problem, a metaphysical one: each man is alone. Since, paradoxically, this is a predicament he shares with the rest of humanity, Baroh decides to capitalize on it. He embarks on a mind-boggling and macabre enterprise — the construction of Terrestra, an international, nondenominational necropolis situated in the wastelands of Turkey. Soon, secondary businesses are called for: airlines, travel agencies, anything to make Terrestra more accessible to anyone who can afford it. His scheme is so overwhelmingly successful that Baroh is forced to take on help, including the enigmatic Phares, whose unsettling presence and gnomic utterances may, at last, help Baroh to understand the depths of the problem he has set for himself. As mordantly ironic as Evelyn Waugh's The Loved One, Aladdin's Problem is a richly poetic meditation on the rituals of death. In its prismatic complexity, its philosophical depth, Junger's half-mythical, half-political tale becomes a caustic allegory of the conditions of modern life.

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