Surreal humour

Confused lives: It’s Getting Dark, by Peter Stamm, reviewed

The Swiss writer Peter Stamm’s inscrutable, alienated outsiders make bizarre choices to escape stifling mundanity. Their discontent suggests malaise, something Stamm accentuates in his spare prose. The result is a distilled essence of unease: the reader is uncomfortable, but can’t look away. This masterful combination of fundamental themes, explored without embellishment through confused lives, has won the author numerous prizes. His 2020 novel The Sweet Indifference hinged on the possibility of seizing lost chances and allowing events to unfold differently. In this collection of short stories, the narrator of ‘Marcia’ is a recluse who ponders about an ex from whom he beat a callously precipitate retreat. He’s nihilistic, but there’s