The Man in the High Castle is a classic, written in 1962, about a world where Germany and Japan won the Second World War. The USA has been split into three sections; the East is run by Nazis, the West by Japan, and the central zone is independent territory. A really marvellous Amazon series was made, based on the book, and I really think I ruined the novel by watching that first. If you haven’t watched the TV series, I would make sure you read this first.
We follow the slightly interconnected lives of several people living on the west coast and in the neutral zone. They are Frank Frink a metal worker who has just lost his job. He is Jewish and has changed his name from Fink. In his former job he was involved in making counterfeit civil war guns for a lucrative antiques market. He lives in Japanese ran San Francisco.
Also in San Francisco is Robert Childan, an antiques dealer. He is desperate to be accepted by the Japanese in society, whist simultaneously being repulsed by his desire to fit in. One of his clients is Nobusuke Tagomi, a high ranking Japanese trade official.
Over in the independent zone, we meet Juliana Frink, she is Frank’s ex wife. Juliana is a judo instructor and she becomes involved with Joe Cinnadella, an Italian truck driver from the Nazi east coast.
There is also the recurrence of a novel within the novel, The Grasshopper Lies Heavy. Several characters are engrossed by this book about an alternate reality where the Allies won the second world war. It was written by Hawthorne Abendson. He is the Man in the High Castle. The alternate reality offered by Grasshopper is nothing like our world. It is, even for us, an alternate reality.
I’m not going to give away any of the plot but you do get some exciting action. There are many more characters than I have mentioned. It is a really interesting book.
The issue with having seen the TV series first is that the series (now 2 seasons of it) naturally has had to expand on the book. Unlike a film version that would have taken up 2 hours, the series is 10 hours per season. The characters have more family, they have expanded, and sometimes adjusted back stories. There are more Nazis in it! Part of the action takes place in the Nazi ruled parts of the world. The main characters have much more overlapping lives. It’s really, really good if you haven’t seen it yet.
Also, the weirdest book dedication: