I’m about 2/3 through Perlefter, and it’s kind of reading more like notes for a novel than a novel itself. But there is some clever writing in it, and some funny stuff. How about this?:
“…and as a result one saw that she had a high, pale, arched mathematical brow and small, pretty earlobes whose delicacy was lost in consideration of this significant forehead. Every young man grew afraid of this head.”
“After [Fredy] had definitely decided on the female sex he slept with one of the servant girls and earned himself his first sexually transmitted disease, of which he was quite proud and of which the entire family knew but about which nobody spoke.”
But seriously, try The Radetzky March, Right and Left, or The Silent Prophet, for your introduction to Roth. Silent... is a novel inspired by Trotsky, was written before his murder, and includes an already chilling fictional version of Stalin. Right… deals with two brothers divided by the advent of the Nazis, likewise written while things were still unfolding.
On the other side of the ledger, I have been trying to read Thomas Mann’s Doctor Faustus, but at not quite halfway, I have given up. It’s so much a novel of ideas, of the discussion of ideas, that I just don’t see any reason to continue. I hate theory and abstraction.