The Message is about a woman whose autonomy is constantly being threatened. And about the lies we tell the people who are closest to us.
Four years after the death of her husband, Ruth is living alone in a house in the countryside where she was once happy with her family. Her children have long since begun to lead their own lives whereas Ruth has learned to appreciate being on her own. Until one day, she receives an anonymous text message from a person who seems to know more about her life than she does. What initially seems to be a mere nuisance soon threatens to turn into a showdown – the messages become increasingly ominous and start to affect Ruth’s children and friends too.
Doris Knecht writes about a woman who becomes a victim of stalking, proving once again she can write with fine scepticism on the topic of people’s relationships.
“In her cutting-edge, brilliant, thrilling novel The Message, Austrian author Doris Knecht shows how cyberstalking can become an existential threat and unhinge a person’s life. It is written entirely from Ruth’s point of view and gains its great immediacy and impact from this perspective. Knecht painstakingly pursues the disturbances and degradations of cyberbullying, but also the self-deception in an independent, ingenious woman’s life. Knecht has skilfully created a strong, exciting novel with the qualities of a thriller.”
- Sibylle Peines, Stern Online, 17.08.2021
“Knecht’s characterisation has succeeded as usual, and her portrait of present times is precise as usual… Her detailed observations, however, serve a more relevant purpose in The Message; they show life in a country in which one in seven women is affected by stalking and in which the number of femicides increases each year. Knecht describes this whole spectrum of inequality, this mishmash of harassment and fatigue that requires you to be careful as a woman, always, no matter what.”
- Dominika Meindl, Falter, 20.08.2021
“Doris Knecht’s story of misogyny on the internet in The Message is light-handed yet extremely clever. It is a story about subtle but devastating violence against women in different variations. Although adorable male figures appear in her book, a web of misogyny is woven. The novel leaves a strong impression.”
-Cornelia Geißler, Frankfurter Rundschau, 20.08.2021
“Doris Knecht does away with one-dimensional black-and-white sketches in her brand-new, frighteningly realistic novel, and relies instead on complexity and heterogeneity. …. Knecht’s protagonist is consistently credible in her needs and ambitions. Her report on how omnipresent and tolerated misogyny is in our society and how powerless you are when faced with it – whether as a direct victim or a committed activist – is terrifying. Doris Knecht’s controversial, socially relevant novel shows that this powerlessness is not a sign of weakness and that there is not a right way, but many different ways to fight hatred and violence.”
- Viktoria Hofeneder, Literaturhaus.at, 01.09.2021