In this novel, Kracht reconstructs the life of the excentric man, telling his arrival in New Guinea, the creation of his plantation, his local servants on the island, his interactions with the authorities and other Germans on the main land. Somehow it fails to make the person really come to live. Kracht depicts his main character with a kind of detached superiority, instead of really trying to understand the man's motivations, actions and ensuing insanity. At times it made me think of that other bad novel "The Confederacy Of Dunces", for the simple reason that the main character is stupid, and you wonder the whole time why a novelist would spend time to ridicule his main character. Why?
Kracht's writing is not bad by itself, and sure, no doubt Engelhardt's vision on life and on diet were pretty narrow, one-sided and doomed to fail, and even the author did a lot to bring historical facts back to us, the condescending tone kills what could have been a strong book.