The Tenant – Roland Topor
First Published in 1964
The first thing that I read about this novel was that it was rare. The second thing that I read about this novel was that Roman Polanski had made a movie of it.
We all know that Polanskini is a repulsive paedophile, but he was a very successful film maker, and it puzzled me to think that the novel he based one of his movies on would be out of print and hard to find.
The third peculiar feature of this novel was that Thomas Ligotti, one of my favourite authors, had written an introduction for one of the most recent, yet long sold out, editions of this book. Ligotti’s work is bizarrely dark, and if he liked it enough to write an introduction for it, this novel might well suit my own personal tastes. All of this was deeply intriguing.
Prices for old paperback versions are ridiculous, and I quickly found a digital version on openlibrary.org, but by the time my hold came through, this version had been taken offline. I finally got my hands on a copy yesterday morning, but I had to perform unspeakable acts of degrading infamy in order to do so.
I’m glad I did though. This book was very interesting and seriously weird. I read the whole thing last night, and I feel like it hasn’t properly settled in my head yet. This isn’t a straightforward novel. I’m not academic enough to tell you which sub genre of literature it belongs to, but it’s definitely one of those -ism ones. (Absurdism? Modernism? Surrealism? Existentialism?) I’ve seen comparisons to Kafka and Beckett, and I might throw in Pinter too. That being said, while this book oozes literary merit, it is a horror novel. Topor skillfully evokes a real sense of nightmarish terror.
I don’t want to give away plot details, so I’ll just say that the book is about a lad who moves into a new apartment and finds his new neighbours rather peculiar. I’m already planning to reread this one. It’s very dark and truly strange. I reckon you should read it.