WINNER OF THE 2017 PRIX GONCOURT
"A thoroughly gripping and mesmerising work of black comedy and political disaster" Guardian
Éric Vuillard's gripping novel The Order of the Day tells the story of the pivotal meetings which took between the European powers in the run up to World War Two. What emerges is a fascinating and incredibly moving account of failed diplomacy, broken relationships, and the catastrophic momentum which led to conflict.
The titans of German industry - set to prosper under the Nazi government - gather to lend their support to Adolf Hitler. The Australian Chancellor realizes too late that he has wandered into a trap, as Hitler delivers the ultimatum that will lay the groundwork for Germany's annexation of Austria. Winston Churchill joins Neville Chamberlain for a farewell luncheon held in honour of Joachim von Ribbentrop: German Ambassador to England, soon to be Foreign Minister in the Nazi government, and future defendant at the Nuremberg trials.
We know that these meetings took place, but what was the mood in the room? What words were exchanged? What egos that were in play? Vuillard makes it impossible to ignore the fact that the world was brought to the brink of war because of the actions of, and decisions made by, those in power. The sense of failure and tragedy is cumulative: there was nothing inevitable about these disastrous events.
PRAISE FOR THE ORDER OF THE DAY
"[A] remarkable account...It captures the bizarre blend of wishful thinking, clownish self-importance, and cold calculation that characterized many of the Nazis' powerful enablers." The New Yorker
"Gripping...a tour de force...this unusual work...peel[s] away the veils of dissimulation, disguise and self-justification that conspire to make historical disasters appear as just the way things happen." Wall Street Journal
"Vuillard is expert at black humor." New York Review of Books
"Extraordinary, disturbingly resonant." BBC
"Don't believe for a minute that this all belongs to some distant past,' Vuillard writes, and this poetic, unconventional history compels the reader to agree." Publishers Weekly
"Vuillard's writing is spare, angry and powerful...a chilling, brilliant look at the rise of fascism in the 1930s that also works as a warning for today." NPR, Best Books of the Year
[A] masterpiece...[Vuillard] illuminates in glorious and ugly precision how the concentration of wealth and power, a cult of personality, political corruption, bigotry, and narcissism are the necessary but sometimes ignored steps that lead to catastrophe." Kerri Arsenault, Literary Hub, Favorite Books of the Year
"[The Order of the Day] scripts the awful behind-the-scenes march, with all its corporate and foreign complicity, from 1933 to Hitler's rise to power in ways so closely observed it feels lived." Boston Globe, Best Books of the Year