Cover image for Indigo : a novel
Indigo : a novel
Setz, Clemens J., 1982- author.
Uniform Title:
Indigo: roman. English
First American edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Liveright Publishing Corporation, a division of W.W. Norton & Company, 2014.
Physical Description:
386 pages : illustrations ; 25 cm
Robert--a man with Indigo syndrome, a condition that causes anyone that comes near him to suffer from nausea and vertigo--investigates a mysterious link between a former math instructor and the disappearance of several of Robert's old classmates from a school for children with Indigo syndrome.
General Note:
Translation of: Indigo: roman.
Added Author:
Format :


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In the Austrian state of Styria lies the Helianau Institute, a boarding school for children born with a mysterious condition known as Indigo syndrome. Anyone who comes near them immediately suffers from nausea and vertigo. Clemens Setz--a fictionalized doppelgänger of the author--is a young math teacher who loses his job at the school after attempting to investigate the mysterious "relocations" of several children. Fourteen years later, Robert, a former student, discovers a newspaper article about Setz's acquittal for the murder of an animal abuser. Could there be a connection between this story, which continues to haunt Robert, and the puzzling events of the past? DeLillo-esque in its exploration of alienation and anxiety, Indigo weaves together bizarre historical anecdotes, such as Edison's electrocution of an elephant, with pop cultural marginalia and pseudoscience to create a "literary work that makes its own laws . . . rich in dialogue and variety, amusing and anecdotal, but also brutal and unfathomable" (Der Spiegel).

Author Notes

Clemens J. Setz is the author of two previous novels and the winner of the Leipzig Book Fair Prize and the Ernst-Willner-Preis at the Ingeborg Bachmann Competition in 2008. He lives in Austria.

Ross Benjaminis an acclaimed German-language translator. He lives in Nyack, New York.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Austrian math instructor and fictional doppelgänger Clemens Setz is haunted by his experiences at the Helianau Institute, a school for children with the mysterious indigo syndrome, which causes those in their proximity to become violently ill. Although the institute is known as a place where children are taught to cope with their condition, Clemens can't reconcile the baffling relocations of students, odd sweat cures, and the bizarre brand of bullying he witnesses. Dismissed under a cloud of rumors, Clemens pens a series of articles for National Geographic on indigo children, using the research cover to investigate what happened to the relocated children. Indigo reads like an art film, with its story crafted from constantly shuffling vignettes: Clemens' story, that of his former student Robert, odd tidbits of Clemens' research, and vague, eerie case files. Acclaimed in Germany after its 2012 release, this blend of mystery and science fiction is steeped in paranoia and dark atmosphere, but Setz creates suspense by dangling concrete confirmation of criminal deeds just out of reach.--Tran, Christine Copyright 2014 Booklist

Publisher's Weekly Review

Austrian writer Setz's first novel to be translated into English is a complex, sometimes convoluted tale that incorporates elements of mystery, science fiction, and sociological commentary. His alter ego, math teacher Clemens Setz, interns at a school in Graz for children diagnosed with Indigo, a disorder that causes dizziness, nausea, diarrhea, and other symptoms in nearby people. Clemens soon notices that some children are "relocated" from the school, and he claims investigating their whereabouts leads to his firing-but suggestions of alcoholism and mental illness undermine his reliability. Fourteen years later, former student Robert Tätzel, whose Indigo has disappeared with adulthood, but who remains emotionally detached, becomes intrigued by a newspaper story about Clemens, recently acquitted of skinning a man who abused dogs. Setz creates a collage of history and anecdotes about medicine, animal experimentation, 20th-century exploration, and more, laced with pop culture references and supplemented with excerpts from classic works and black-and-white illustrations. This densely packed novel should satisfy readers who enjoy connecting the dots for themselves and following a winding path through a near future fraught with vague but urgent anxiety. (Nov.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

Library Journal Review

Ah, adventures in metafiction! There really is no central plot in this work from Austrian author Setz but various approaches to the malady called Indigo, a childhood disease causing nausea, vertigo, and severe headaches in anyone near the sufferer; a crucial setting is the Helianau Institute in Austria, where patients are "treated." Main threads involve Clemens Setz (the character, not the author see?), a former math teacher at the institute who writes articles on the phenomenon, and Robert Tatzel, a painter and former sufferer, who wonders about the mysterious disappearance ("relocation") of many institute patients and who channels Batman in the Adam West version. Along the way, readers are treated to oddities (with pictures) from the "folders," including the Mojave Phone Booth, a pop-culture wonder that actually existed, and the Man with the Light-bulb Head. We never really do discover the etiology of the disease or the fate of the relocated children, but that's not the game here: as Batman might say, it's about the journey, Robin, not the end point. VERDICT The promotion calls this "reminiscent of early Pynchon": true, and it will appeal mainly to readers who might want to reminisce. Robert E. Brown, Oswego, NY (c) Copyright 2014. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.