6/10 (Vague and uninspiring)
“Barabbas the acquitted” is a weighty topic to address in such a slim novel. While I’m glad to have read it and found it both compelling and thought-provoking, it didn’t really jump out and sink its claws into me as did The Dwarf. It has neither the uniqueness of the twisted narrator nor the shocking misanthropy with which to engage, and its themes — among them faith, destiny, desire for belonging, betrayal, love v. hate — are somehow vague and uninspiring.
I read it in a day but the only impression it left was a pervading sadness and loneliness, which it definitely does well to evoke. I really liked the passage on the burning of Rome, and his last meeting with Simon Peter, “the denier.” But these episodes were brief flashes of brilliance that I expected more consistently after Dwarf. Another disappointment for me was the anachronism of some dialogue and word choices.
Overall, after reading his two “best” books I find Lagerkvist intriguing, but I don’t feel called to read more any time soon. Perhaps I’d feel differently if Barabbas had been as eye-popping as Dwarf.