Home > Literature, Reviews > Review of Momo by Michael Ende

Review of Momo by Michael Ende

A couple of months ago I was walking along the main street in Gangnam after my Korean class and I noticed a branch of Libro Books. So I went in. After wandering around for a little bit looking for the English language books I asked an assistant, ‘Yeongmun seojeok isseoyo?’ It turned out that I’d just walked past them. Of the books on display this one caught my eye; I’d never read any Michael Ende, and if he had books in a Korean bookstore he must, at least, be quite well-known (I now know that he wrote The Neverending Story).

Momo reminded me of Paulo Coelho’s The Alchemist, although it’s less mystical and more of a straightforward fantasy. Momo is a girl who appears out of nowhere and takes up residence in a ruined amphitheatre. Without really doing anything other than listening, she becomes a catalyst for the locals’ imaginations, helps them express themselves more fully and truly. It all goes pear-shaped, however, when a mysterious breed of grey men encroach on the city and steal people’s time (literally, that is).

Although it didn’t move me to any great degree, Momo is a very nicely constructed modern fairy tale. At 230 pages it’s a fairly easy read, although some of the early sections consisting of illustrations of Momo’s ability to unlock others’ imaginations dragged a tiny bit. The climax of the story seems a bit easy – it’s over quickly and Momo never seems in much danger – but I suppose this is more of a children’s story than a hard-hitting adult tome.

The novel’s main thesis (that the increased pace of modern life reduces one’s ability to appreciate life) is certainly apposite, but also simplistic. By the end, everything is returned to normal and everybody is happy, but the instinct to work and live faster and faster is innate to humans (some humans, anyway) and is not the work of nasty grey time-thieves. But that criticism is unfair: Momo is, after all, a fairy story, a fantasy – and a very good one, too.

Categories: Literature, Reviews
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  1. 9 December 2010 at 11:18 pm

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