From The New York Times:
For busy, harried or distractible readers who have the time and energy only to skim the opening paragraph of a review, I’ll say this as quickly and clearly as possible: “The Death of the Adversary” and “Comedy in a Minor Key” are masterpieces, and Hans Keilson is a genius. First published in the Netherlands in 1947, “Comedy in a Minor Key” is only now appearing in English, in an eloquent translation by Damion Searls. “The Death of the Adversary” (skillfully translated by Ivo Jarosy) appeared here in 1962, but has long been out of print. Born in 1909, their author, the centenarian Keilson, lives with his wife in a village near Amsterdam where until recently he practiced medicine, a profession he followed in his native Germany until the Nuremberg laws forced him to flee to the Netherlands. There he was active in the Dutch resistance and later became known for his work with children traumatized by the war. Although the novels are quite different, both are set in Nazi-occupied Europe and display their author’s eye for perfectly illustrative yet wholly unexpected incident and detail, as well as his talent for storytelling and his extraordinarily subtle and penetrating understanding of human nature. But perhaps the most distinctive aspect they share is the formal daring of the relationship between subject matter and tone. Rarely has a finer, more closely focused lens been used to study such a broad and brutal panorama, mimetically conveying a failure to come to grips with reality by refusing to call that reality by its proper name.