INDIGO by Clemens J. Setz


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The title doesn’t refer to the Indigo Girls, Mood Indigo or indigo buntings but rather to a bizarre childhood disease that causes dizziness and nausea in anyone who approaches the infected children.

Setz is definitely exploring a postmodern landscape here. There’s no central narrative thread, for example, but rather a complex series of intertwined and overlapping perspectives. One of the narrators is not-so-coincidentally named Clemens Setz, and he’s been writing articles on the phenomenon of the Indigo children (sometimes referred to pejoratively as “dingoes”). The author's fictional double taught math at the Helianau Institute in Austria, which housed these children, until he was fired. Another narrator is Robert Tätzel, a former Indigo child himself and still concerned about lingering effects both of the illness and of the relocation of Indigo children by Dr. Otto Rudolph, the eccentric head of the Helianau Institute. In fact, the ultimate fate of the children remains quite mysterious. Robert is exceptionally knowledgeable about Batman, and he frequently quotes odd little snippets from the 1960s Adam West TV series. Setz the author—as opposed to Setz the narrator—is comfortable expanding his narrative by sharing photographs, for example of Tommy Beringer, supposedly the first child to catch the Indigo illness, and of a Tatzelwurm (think Robert) supposedly found near Meiringen, Switzerland, in 1934. He also alludes meaningfully to Arvo Pärt, Bruce Lee and Star Trek, providing a dense texture to the novel.

It’s inevitable that Setz will be compared to Thomas Pychon, for his narrative has a similar complexity, nuance and, yes, even paranoia.

Pub Date: Nov. 11th, 2014
ISBN: 978-0-87140-268-4
Page count: 416pp
Publisher: Liveright/Norton
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15th, 2014


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