Clemens J. Setz, trans. from the German by Ross Benjamin. Liveright, $26.95 (416p) ISBN 978-0-87140-268-4

Austrian writer Setz’s first novel to be translated into English is a complex, sometimes convoluted tale that incorporates elements of mystery, science fiction, and sociological commentary. His alter ego, math teacher Clemens Setz, interns at a school in Graz for children diagnosed with Indigo, a disorder that causes dizziness, nausea, diarrhea, and other symptoms in nearby people. Clemens soon notices that some children are “relocated” from the school, and he claims investigating their whereabouts leads to his firing—but suggestions of alcoholism and mental illness undermine his reliability. Fourteen years later, former student Robert Tätzel, whose Indigo has disappeared with adulthood, but who remains emotionally detached, becomes intrigued by a newspaper story about Clemens, recently acquitted of skinning a man who abused dogs. Setz creates a collage of history and anecdotes about medicine, animal experimentation, 20th-century exploration, and more, laced with pop culture references and supplemented with excerpts from classic works and black-and-white illustrations. This densely packed novel should satisfy readers who enjoy connecting the dots for themselves and following a winding path through a near future fraught with vague but urgent anxiety. (Nov.)