Review of The Man in a High Castle (Four Stars)
The Man in a High Castle (aka Hawthorne Absendsem) is one of those books which is addictive, full of twists and open to interpretation. (Probably intentionally)
The story has been televised, but this review is based on the original novel.
The United States is divided between the victorious powers.
Japan holds California and the Western States.
Germany controls a large part of the East.
In the middle USA, the Rocky Mountain States are not under occupation but only a shadow of their former glory.
Frank Frink (formerly Fink) is a secret Jew and war veteran who agrees to join a former co-worker to start a business making and selling jewelry. Being a jew, he lives under the shadow of being sent to Germany and the gas chambers.
Meanwhile, in the Rocky Mountain States, Frank’s ex-wife, Juliana Frink, works as a judo instructor in Canon City, Colorado. In her private life, she has entered a sexual relationship with Joe Cinnadella, an Italian truck driver and ex-soldier. She later kills Joe Cinnadella when she realizes he’s a Nazi hitman who wants to kill Hawthorne Absendsem (The Man in a High Castle)
Some characters secretly read The Grasshopper Lies Heavy, a novel of speculative fiction that presents an alternative history of World War II, wherein the Allies defeat the Axis. The Nazis ban the novel in the United States, but the Japanese allow its publication and sale in the Pacific States of America.
Reading this book encourages Juliana Frink to seek out Hawthorne Absendsem (The Man in a High Castle)
Many other things happen, but why spoil a good read.
However, as stated, The Man in a High Castle contains several twists
1. There are parts of the story that suggest a parallel universe situation.
One of the characters, Tagomi briefly perceives another parallell America as Frank Frink’s artifact transports him to a San Francisco city where white folk do not defer to the Japanese.
A Freeway runs through downtown San Francisco, whereas in Tagomi’s world, it does not exist. This suggests that the world might in fact, be our own.
2. The Grasshopper Lies Heavy
Hawthorne Absendsem (The Man in a High Castle) is the author of “The Grasshopper Lies Heavy”, a novel of speculative fiction that presents an alternative history of World War II, where the Allies defeat the Axis.
The Nazis ban “The Grasshopper Lies Heavy” in the Nazi-controlled United States, but the Japanese allowed its publication and sale in the Japanese-occupied Pacific States of America.
Could there be truth behind “The Grasshopper Lies Heavy”?
3. I Ching, a Chinese book of divination.
Including mystical ways of predicting the future reflects that Philip K Dick was reputedly involved in the ‘beatnik’ generation and into Eastern religions and mysticism.
In the book, the idea of yin and yang (dark and light) is brought up numerous times
Final comments on The Man in a High Castle
by Philip K. Dick.
This a book that is well worth a read. Four stars from me. I have no idea how it compares with the televised version or how they stretched it to so many episodes.
Andrew R Williams author
Author of the Arcadia’s Children Series and the Tipham Trilogy